Course, Free time

Easter Break … Now Panic!

Apparently we had 3 weeks off over Easter, but it sure didn’t feel like it! There was a lot I wanted to get done, but somehow I’m already back in classes with little progress made on my assignments.  I’m pleased to be back, as lectures continue to be excellent, but I’ve reached the point where there is not much time to waste anymore. Perhaps it’s still a little too early to be worrying, but it’s astonishing how quickly the hours (and days) pass. Every spare moment I’m thinking of what I need to research or write next. With focus, I know I’ll get through it – to some extent I find the pressure motivating.

But at least I didn’t stress myself too much with it over the break. Someone said to me on Monday, “I decided to leave the panicking until after Easter!” I think that says it all.


All Together…

Easter Break was amazing, I got to spend a week abroad with my parents and spend 2 weeks with my bestest friends. Coming back to uni was a bit of a challenge and a shock once I arrived.

I find it difficult to settle at uni, then go home for 3 weeks and vise versa. But this time was even harder, due to the amount of work I would be facing. I don’t know what it is about universities but they love to see you struggle.  Not only do we have exams coming up, but all my deadlines are in the same week. That equals alot of stress and not enough time!

To be able to cope you have to make time. Im sure the pubs and clubs have noticed a decrease in student attendancy’s because everyone is in the same boat. However with my course, which I love, we are putting an event on next week on top of everything else. A 3 course meal and drinks with a theme has its challenges.  So were squeezing planning in whenever we can and with 14 of us on the same project, its difficult to get everyone together.

But I like a challenge and that’s what uni is all about. Pushing you to give your best! Don’t give up because its hard, don’t search for excuses not to do it. Look for reasons why your in this position and bring out the positive! That way there is no fail.

Free time

I hate to say they told me so.

I don’t want to sound like a patronising old woman and I certainly don’t want my parents to say “I told you so” but nowadays, at the grand old age of 21, I’d love to be able to tell my younger self to stop being so angsty about everything and to appreciate the good things in life more. I really enjoy coming home from uni now to see my family. I’m pretty lucky to have them!

Clubs and societies, Course, Free time, The Galleon

The next Shakespeare? I doubt it.

But on the plus side, I feel pretty positive about my writing in general at the minute.

Sometimes I feel a little bad about neglecting this blog, so I apologise to anybody who reads it as it may, from time to time, be lacking in new content.

This Easter I have slightly felt as though everything is getting on top of me a bit. I used to be too lazy to put myself forward for anything but now, in my quest to a) improve my confidence, b) improve my CV, and c) gain new experiences, I can sometimes feel like I might have signed up for too many things as I don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to do everything I need to.

As well as writing this blog, I also have a personal blog, I write for The Galleon and the NUS web site, I’m on the committee of a society, and I’ve had a part time job whilst I’ve been at home. All this on top of my actual degree can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore.

Thankfully I have an enjoyable job in a pretty tea room  by a canal, and all this writing experience will be invaluable in the future. Yes, I’m getting CV bonus points, but I’m also getting the satisfaction of knowing I’m improving with everything I write. After all, practice makes perfect.

Finance, Free time, Nightlife, Travels

I am the student that saves up.

Yes. I save up.

But let me explain. Believe it or not, but I do actually have a social life and I do go out. But I find ways to make it affordable. Orange Wednesdays. Free entry before 10pm. 2 for 1 deals on drinks. Why spend more if you can spend less?

I was never the kind to get drunk every chance I got, and I think this paid off. It really baffles me when I see other people’s facebook statuses about how they managed to spend over 50% of their student loan in Freshers Week only! I mean, this is probably not a problem for someone who has a steady income, such as a part-time job; but for me (with student loan being my only source of income) this would be unacceptable!

So I decided to save up. And guess what? The money I didn’t spend on getting drunk went towards something that is most likely to be the best summer of my life!

And what is it, may you ask? I will be spending my summer at an American summer camp as an Activity Counsellor. After the camp I will have time to travel across the States, which is something I have dreamt of doing since I was old enough to dream about it! I already started planning my post-camp travels, but I’m still waiting for my placement to be confirmed, so I actually know in what part of United States I will spend most of the summer, and my 20th birthday. I consider this opportunity the best present I could ever get myself.

So… wow. I would have never thought that it would be the student loan that would enable me to go. But it did. And you know what? I’m glad I didin’t have those extra cocktails because, let’s face it, cocktails give you headaches. And what would you rather have: a headache, or memories that last lifetime?


My view on English Literature!

Inspired by Blake, I’ve decided I should probably write a little more in depth about the course I am studying in Portsmouth: English Literature.

What do you actually do?

Now, to start with the basics, this isn’t just a degree in books! There’s a lot more to it than just reading books and writing “I think this means this because…” in my essays. In order to analyse a large variety of texts (and yes, a lot of these are novels) I have to read loads of secondary criticism in order to form my own criticism of a text, drawing inspiration of those who have come before me.

How much work do you have to do?

On a weekly basis, for example, I have to read a novel, a play or a selection of poems and, on top of this, I am expected to read numerous journal articles or extracts from books that provide a critical take on the text I have read. In terms of workload, this amount of reading can get difficult, but as I am normally only at university for 8 hours a week (and sometimes less!) I have some spare time to catch up on the work.

How is your degree assessed?

I generally have two pieces of coursework per unit or one piece of coursework and an exam and they are always lengthy essays. In second year I’ve made the jump from 1,500-2,000 words to 2,500 but it’s all good practice for my dissertation next year! I know that in September, however, they are changing the way the degrees are assessed so I’m not sure how you’ll be assessed in 2012/13. Regardless, if you’re an English student you’ll have to do a lot of essays and a lot of exams!

What units have you studied/can you study?

Year 1:
Unit-wise, in my first year I took the following:
Semester 1:
1. Authorship (Different types of authors, the importance of the author, the death of the author, whether context is important when analysing a text etc.)
2. Study Skills (Learning how to write essays and analyse texts which was, honestly, pretty dull but ultimately very useful)
3. Key Concepts (My favourite unit! Mainly post-colonialism – there were some great books on the unit too)
4. Language Awareness (I’d only recommend this if you’re interested in doing a TEFL qualification, otherwise I’d stay away from it – unless you’re doing English Literature and Language of course)

Semester 2:
1. Narrative Forms (The clue is in the name of the unit I guess. There were some pretty cool texts on this unit too)
2.  Shakespeare and Post-Renaissance Drama (There was only 2 Shakespeare plays on this unit and it was at 9am on a Friday, but it was pretty good)
3. Rereading Literary History (Yeah, I found this unit really hard, but it might have been to do with the fact I probably didn’t do as much work towards it as I should have, a lesson I’ve definitely learned from now!)
4. Textual and Critical Skills (A follow on from study skills but with poetry instead)

Year 2:
This year I’ve had a lot more freedom in my choices and I’ve been able to study:
THE GOTHIC (quite dark but really interesting);
NATIONAL IDENTITIES and ENGLISHNESS (my favourite of the lot – really made me see Britain in a different light);
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY: FROM DEFOE TO AUSTEN (which I found extremely boring, through no fault of my lecturer who is in fact really good at his job and made it far more interesting than it could’ve been) and
WRITING THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (good luck with Middlemarch!)

I’m currently finishing off:
PUBLICS AND PRIVATES: LITERARY SEXUALITIES 1700-1830 (not for the faint-hearted – it’s pretty dirty)
REWRITING LITERARY HISTORY (looking at the way in which authors rewrite classic canonical texts – the best unit I’ve done so far – I really enjoy it)
REPRESENTATION AND IDENTITY (again, quite a lot of these unit explanations are pretty much given within the name, but this is another great unit).

There were other options available this year too so you’re never short of choice.

Now unfortunately, due to a change in the way the university’s semesters/terms/assessments/etc. are working, some of these units won’t be available for undergraduates starting in 2012 (or those moving into their second year in September). I’ve had a look at the new unit lists though and the units available are, in general, quite similar to the units available at the moment so I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed.

What are the lecturers like?

As I’m sure everyone else does, I do have lecturers/seminar tutors that I prefer but everyone who teaches the course knows what they’re doing and it’s just about making sure there is a mutual respect between student/lecturer. You won’t get treated like a kid but you will be expected to put the effort in.


As with all courses, you’ll be expected to work really hard but in the end it’s worth it. I’ve discovered books I’d never have thought to read, from hundreds of years ago to just a year or so ago. Whatever course you pick just make sure it’s one you really enjoy.

I’m not sure if this was very helpful but you have any more questions about my course, please feel free to write a comment below!

Blake's View, Course

Blake’s view: Nobody likes 9am lectures

Do I have any complaints about the course? No, not really. Okay, nobody likes 9am lectures. Lectures and seminars are only an hour long, and sometimes I find myself wishing they were longer. The timetabling isn’t always great, which has left me with breaks of several hours. But no matter, I’ve filled in the gaps with studying, going to the University Library, reading, and going to the shops in Commercial Road, so it’s not a big problem. Park Building even has its own mini-library with books, magazines, DVD rental and TVs, plus there’s the Park Building café and several computer suits, so there’s plenty to do!

I genuinely enjoy attending lectures because I find them interesting. I came to this course knowing nothing about North or South America and I’ve already learned so much! I now know that Costa Rica doesn’t have a military, how new laws are passed in the US, that many Americans wanted George Washington to be their King, and that Chile is the only country to have elected a Communist government. Why is this important? Because now I can understand why Obama’s healthcare bill is causing so much commotion in the US, why Canadians play ice hockey and Cubans play baseball, and why President Hoover’s policies during the Great Depression didn’t work. By understanding the context of these countries, I can better evaluate what is happening in the present.

American Studies really has met my expectations. The lecturers have all been very friendly and have made an effort to get to know the students. Lecturers always stop and say hello if you pass in the corridor, which I don’t think you get on all courses.

The teacher is just as important as the subject, and the teaching has been excellent and the subject highly interesting. I made the right decision to return to university. Definitely.