Category Archives: Features

What I’ve Learned In My Second Year

by Cassie Waters

This time last year, I was a ball of nervousness and nostalgia. I finished my coursework in early May and as an English Literature student I spent the exam period drinking Pimms whilst watching my friends revise, leaving me lots of time to think about the approaching end of a very short era. I wasn’t going to be a fresher anymore, I wasn’t going to live in halls anymore, and I wouldn’t be a few doors down from all my best friends. I tearfully moved out of Victory House convinced that my uni experience was practically over, that the next two years were going to be a long lonely drag spent in the library with a ten foot pile of books. Now it’s the end of second year and I’ve realised I couldn’t have been more wrong (the pile of books is only 6 foot). Despite first year’s reputation as the best year, second year has so much to offer and here are some of the things I’ve learnt from it.

Living in a house share:

There is a world of difference between living in halls and living in a house with housemates. Although living in halls presented its own challenges like sharing two microwaves with eleven other people in a kitchen where you might get tetanus if you walked barefoot, it doesn’t compare to facing the tiny practicalities of living in a house of four girls for the first time. In the first week we had nearly had: a fire (I still don’t know how I managed to start a fire in the microwave from a frozen bread roll), smashed the glass in the oven door (my housemate forgot to ‘break’ at the end of her sock slide’) and unknowingly turned the boiler off. We quickly realised we were incapable of living without UEA maintenance and the cleaner on standby, living in fear of when the light bulbs would give out and we’d actually have to change them. We had to wave a swift goodbye to egg fights and water fights in the kitchen – they aren’t as fun when you’re the one who has to clean it up. A new oven door, 4 sets of keys (just mine- thank God for £3.50 cutting at the market!), several almost fires, many cold showers and a traumatising experience of pulling 6 months of hair out of the downstairs shower later and we’re as close to domestic goddesses as we ever will be. I’ve even taken the role of chief spider catcher. Somebody has to do it.

The joys of a cleaning rota:

Back in halls we were constantly receiving passive aggressive notes and warnings off Helen, our frenemy cleaner. I moaned like everyone else each time we got a new letter telling us that there was another reason why our kitchen couldn’t be cleaned properly. How is it possible to have all surfaces cleared but no floors or windowsills obstructed! However, by the time September came around I was on my way to becoming the new Helen. Waking up after our first pre-drinks and seeing the state of the house, I realised that I really was bothered by mess. Without a cleaning rota I would have had to become the housemate that everyone hates, sending snappy messages to the group chat about the state of the bathrooms in the vain hope that someone else would clean it. I spent ages making the cleaning rota, colouring it in with my extensive Sharpie set. I proudly stuck it to fridge, relieved that a piece of paper could save me from my own passive aggression. On the whole it has worked, our kitchen surfaces could still use some TLC and our carpets sparkle from embedded glitter but in comparison to some of our friend’s houses, it’s a show room. Long live the cleaning rota.

Friendships change:

Towards the end of first year I had a very tight group of friends in my flat that I spent all my time with. We had the same sense of humour and we had a closeness that only comes from having lived with each other. I knew that I would miss being flatmates with half of our group but I was sure that we would see each other all the time and that our house would become a crash pad, a base for our group. Unfortunately, it was quickly apparent that this wasn’t going to be the case. After many ignored invites, flaky excuses and a general lack of effort we started to give up. Bigger workloads, distance from houses and new friendships have all contributed to why we don’t see some of our friends very often. It’s not all bad though. I didn’t know one of my housemates – Alice – very well at the beginning of the year. We had mutual friends which was how we were brought together. In her I have found the perfect companion, someone who loves tea nearly as much as I do and we spend most of our evenings sat next to each other in our armchairs laughing at memes or drinking Aldi wine in the garden. One of my old flatmates is a student paramedic and when she’s not on placement she’s often found at ours. She is the perfect honorary housemate who once got out of bed to pick me up from the LCR when I was several drinks past my peak. We’ve made lots of new friends, become closer to some who we didn’t know that well last year and I’m really lucky to have some of my best school friends at UEA with me (coincidence I promise!). My old flatmates are still really important friends to me, but I’ve accepted that you can’t bring everyone along with you.

 Being a real adult (sort of):

Being a first year you are sheltered from some of the realities of adult life. Like bills! Utilities are an almost impossible world to navigate, there are so many deals and how do you sort out splitting them between four people? My housemate is still scarred from the experience of setting up our bills over the summer. This year I also got a job working at an out of school club. It’s great, I get paid to play with Lego and make parachutes out of tissues and plastic cups. It also requires me to get up at 6.15am on Tuesdays which is not so fun. It’s forced me to learn how to balance my time around uni and because of it I spend less time lying on my bed flicking through Facebook when I should be reading. I’ve learnt how to better manage my money; my overdraft hasn’t been used in a long time (which is a good thing – it’s been left in a sorry state!). I still drink too many cocktails (they are the cause of my previous money problems), have too many late nights and occasionally ignore my reading list, but I’m well on my way to becoming the responsible adult I hope I will be one day.

As the end of second year rolls around, I don’t feel the same dread that I felt last year. I’m excited about the prospect of third year, even though it drags me one step closer to leaving UEA. Roll on more house chaos, dissertations and panic about the future. I think I’m ready.

photo courtesy of Tim Trad at https://unsplash.com/@timtrad

Govroam – What Is It? What Does It Mean For Us?

by Tony Allen

Govroam, now dubbed a public sector answer to Eduroam, the internet roaming service we all know and reluctantly grew to love, is rapidly gaining traction in the UK following the success in the Netherlands and Belgium. I got in touch with the organisations behind govroam in Europe and the team working to roll it out in the UK to find out what the benefits are and what challenges they have faced.

Continue reading Govroam – What Is It? What Does It Mean For Us?

How to Learn Welsh – Useful Tips and Resources

by David Winlo

Welsh is a Celtic language spoken by around 0.7 million people, 5,000 of whom don’t live in Wales, or even the UK, but in the far-flung Chubut province of Argentina, known in Welsh as Y Wladfa. This is the first reason you might wish to learn Welsh, and this very reason is universal among languages – you’ll be able to talk to new people, not just in the country or countries where the language you’re learning is an official or main language. You’ll also be able to listen to Welsh folk music, and other genres, as well as reading Welsh books and poetry, as well as gaining a small amount of understanding with its related languages: Manx, Cornish, and to a lesser extent Scottish- and Irish Gaelic.

 

When learning Welsh, I would advise keeping the following in mind:

  1. Not all of those consonants are consonants. Welsh is famous for its distressing lack of vowels, in words like ‘chwech’ (six), ‘buwch’ (cow), and in various place names, such as ‘Amlwch’. Don’t worry about these. Certain letters which look like consonants are actually vowels, like the letter w in the above examples, which sounds approximately like an English ‘oo’, and y, which sounds a bit like a sound English speakers make when hesitating, namely ‘err’.
  2. Welsh is an X-Man of a language, a mutant. The letters at the start of a noun can change based on what is happening to the noun in the sentence, for example, ‘in Wales’ in Welsh is ‘yng Nghymru’, even though ‘Wales’ on its own would be ‘Cymru’. This means you might well recognise words that look similar to ones you’ve already learned if their ending is similar.
  3. Spelling, whilst initially seeming insane, makes much more sense than in English. Welsh has dropped some letters from English, such as k and x, but also has letters English doesn’t, which are made up of two characters, such as ‘Ll’, or ‘ll’ in lower case, and the above ‘Ng’, or ‘ng’ in lower case. Once you’ve worked out what these sound like, with a couple making sounds which don’t exist in English, Welsh is almost entirely phonetic in spelling, meaning words are spelled how they sound, something which non-native speakers of English would find very refreshing when trying to read words like.
  4. There are plenty of free resources out there for learning Welsh! Here are just a few: Duolingo, Omniglot, and various BBC materials.

I hope this is enough to convince or help you to learn Welsh. If so, pob lwc i chi!

Image ‘Welsh flag’ by Matthew Wilkinson is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

 

 

How to Learn German – Useful Tips and Resources

by David Winlo

So, you’ve been to Berlin on holiday, tried some bratwurst while there, come back and listened to some Rammstein, and now you’re intrigued – perhaps you could learn this language, and get more out of these things. Maybe find out what more the German-speaking world has to offer.

Continue reading How to Learn German – Useful Tips and Resources

On the edge or cutting edge? What does UEA think of the new library statue?

By Natalie Froome

UEA have hit the headlines with the controversial placing of a new Anthony Gormley statue.

The art installation is a human statue, which has been placed on the very edge of the library roof. Some are calling the statue ‘edgy’ and think it a great addition to UEA’s sculpture trail, while others have berated the University for their bad taste.

We talked to UEA Students to get the picture of what students think about it… Continue reading On the edge or cutting edge? What does UEA think of the new library statue?

Surviving the Easter Holidays – a memoir

by Cassie Waters

This Easter it took roughly fifteen minutes of hugs and smiles and “it’s so nice to have you back” before my family descended into their usual madness. This time it was an argument over what take away we were getting. The war between fish and chips and Indian lasted twice as long as the happy homecoming. It left me questioning: how on earth was I going to survive four weeks in this madhouse?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. By the end of term I really look forward to coming home and seeing them and the dogs and the beautiful Suffolk landscape (although I’m still waiting to see one of these “mountain hills” Ed Sheeran’s been talking about). Before I came to UEA I was terrified of leaving home, I couldn’t imagine life away from my family but it didn’t take long before I grew to love my newfound independence. When I went home for the first time after starting uni I was amazed to discover that living in a flat of twelve with all the drama that entailed was more chill than my home with four of us.

 I come from a family of strong characters. We’re all opinionated, mick-takers who don’t shy away from confrontation. It must have been a shock for my sister’s boyfriend, a guy who’s so laid back he’s almost in a permanent state of limbo, to come round for the first time and be confronted by the constant winding up from my dad, my mum insisting on him having third helpings of tea and my sister and I shouting over the top of each other to be heard. I spent all of first year entertaining my flat with stories about my family like how my aunt believes in fairies and lives in a spiritual commune in Brazil or our Christmas tradition of everyone buying someone a joke present to wear. Meaning we have a vast array of awful family photos where my aunts are wearing thongs made out of sweets, my dad’s wearing a mullet wig and a medallion and, even more horrifyingly, my uncle has a woollen willy warmer. The best anecdote is the time my mum pretended to be dead as a prank on my dad. That’s a story for another day.

Returning to your family after a semester of only having to answer to yourself is always going to be a challenge. During the first week I was irritated by the questioning about my love life (it’s like being Bridget Jones, only they aren’t yet concerned about my fertility), my future career plans (non- existent) and my driving skills (my parents seemingly believe that 3 months without driving means I’m only capable of driving after long lectures. Yes Mum, I will ring the AA if I break down. Yes Mum, I will take photos if I crash). It’s a week of lots of petty arguments and long dog walks to get away from it all. After that I just embrace the different way of living because it won’t be long before I’m sat in the UEA library procrastinating and missing it all.  After all it is a month of having meals made for me, my washing done and the wonders of Sky TV.

 

image courtesy of I’m Priscilla at https://unsplash.com/@artographybyp

It’s Easy Being Green

Last month saw the annual Go Green Week take place at UEA. Tony Allen looks back on the event and we hear from Students’ Union Environment Officer Veronica White to gauge her reaction to the week.

From 13th to 17th February, UEA’s Students’ Union took part in People and Planet’s tenth national Go Green Week. The idea is that various local groups take action and spread awareness around matters to do with conservation and protecting the environment.

The SU, working with University team Sustainable UEA, put on a busy programme of events to promote sustainability at UEA and attempt to gain suggestions on how to better protect the environment on campus and further afield.

On Monday, the main event was a Vegetarian and Vegan market, where hungry students could try food that is better for the planet and their bodies. The first day of events also saw a quiz run by the Environmental Sciences Society and the first in a series of relaxing biodiversity walks around campus, led by UEA wardens.

SU Environment Officer Veronica White told The Broad: “I felt that the Vegan & Vegetarian Fair on Monday was my biggest accomplishment with regards to organisation. It was the event that stressed me the most and the one that I was most pleased to see was successful. I’m happy that students got to try various vegan and vegetarian foods and I hope it opened people’s eyes to the possibilities these diets offer.”

On Tuesday, before an evening screening of Avatar, Go Green Week took over the Hive for a second day in a row, this time for a green consultation where students and staff members could learn about what is already being done and have their say, giving the SU their views and ideas about conservation and reducing environmental impact on campus.

Veronica said: “we got some great suggestions from students with regards to making the university and Union more sustainable.

“These suggestions we’re collating into themes which we can use to lobby the university to make changes – from introducing more water fountains on campus to making better use of our beautiful environment in our learning and teaching services.”

Wednesday saw a tour of sustainable labs at UEA, before on Thursday, students who missed out earlier in the week were treated to another wave of guided nature walks around the lake, and there was a zero-waste workshop in the Hive- part of the Union’s self-professed ‘Green Action Day’.

The week was rounded off on Friday by a trip to Swaffham, and up to the panoramic viewing platform of the area’s imposing wind turbine. This gave participants the opportunity to take in the views while also learning about renewable energy in the UK.

Veronica named this as her favourite event of the week, continuing: “The event which I had the most fun at was the Panoramic Wind Turbine Tour at the Green Britain Centre. I had initially suggested we organise an event there as a bit of a joke, so it felt surreal to be climbing up the turbine with a large group of students whose interests align with mine.”

Veronica spoke of her hopes that the event would continue as a fixture at UEA in future years, adding: “I hope that it is even more successful with each coming year. I believe this year was significant because I feel like Amy [Rust, Campaigns and Democracy Officer] and I really created a relationship with Sustainable UEA and members of staff on the University side of things. I hope this relationship continues to strengthen and we as a Union can work effectively with the university to create engaging events which reach a large number of students.”

She reflected on the week as a whole, saying: “People who know me well will know that I’m glad the week is over. It was a lot of work to organise and some of the logistics got confusing in the days leading up to various events, however overall I believe it was a successful week.”

Judging by the widespread positive reactions to the latest Go Green Week, it looks set to remain a mainstay of the UEA calendar.

Image courtesy of UEA SU

Is UEA’s ‘green’ status over?

by Rob Klim

The UEA campus has always been famous for its green space, environmental innovation and especially, the rabbits residing across the grounds. However, as the university’s green credentials begin to emerge as more troubling than they would appear to be, it may be that UEA are not doing enough to protect this status well enough.

We have all been prospective students here once – we were all assured of the environmental conservation policies and the amounts of money and effort put into projects such as the Biomass Centre and TEC buildings. This reassurance, however, falls short as Lewis Martin of People and Planet points out, UEA are “certainly not” keeping their word.

Martin, an activist within People and Planet – an organisation emphasising the importance of environmental sustainability and conservation – highlights the hypocrisy of the university:

“How can it claim that all the time it has £250,000 invested in fossil fuel companies, which have increasingly smaller returns, and has no money invested into greener renewable energies?”

It has also been revealed that when People and Planet sought to press the university to invest in renewable energies, the university has refused to budge. Helen Redeirmann, another activist, has emphasised further how far the university goes to avoid discussing the issue. Around six months have passed since UEA had begun to consider opening up a dialogue, and since then the investment in fossil fuels has doubled.

Martin also explains how other universities are reading much further ahead in an en masse divestment from fossil fuels companies, stating that “other universities are dropping their investments and they don’t even claim to be the “number one green university in the country”.

People and Planet’s University League – a league table ranking universities by environmental and ethical performance – has places UEA in the 48th place in the country, with a total score of 45.6%, and whilst the environmental policy is ranked at a 100%, ethical divestment and carbon reduction remain at 0%.

UEA’s investment in fossil fuels comes to nearly £300,000. All this money, could perhaps be better spent on research to help, not hinder, the environment.

To get involved, join a group of people every Wednesday in either the bar or one of the bookable rooms upstairs in Union House.

 

image courtesy of freestocks, at https://unsplash.com/@freestocks