Clubs and societies, Course, Free time, Island Experience, Music, Nightlife, Sport, The city

Freshers!

I remember my first ever experience of Freshers Fayre at the University of Portsmouth – it seems like such a long time ago! Wherever I went there were people in the streets handing out leaflets and free things: a flyer for Ken’s Kebabs, a bag of coupons for a restaurant I’d never heard of, a free can of drink from club I would never visit, a free haircut, lollipops, badges and discount shopping vouchers. It was overwhelming! And that was even before I’d pushed my way towards Ravelin Park!

Already my hands were aching from carrying so many flyers. Then I was hit by the noise and the sheer amount of people mingling in the park. More vouchers were thrust into my hands, and then inside the tents so many societies vying to attract new recruits. It seemed like total chaos, and I remember going home to feel relieved to be alone again.

Freshers Fayre is pretty much like that, but I’ve learned to love it during my time. Rather than getting frustrated at the constant leafleters, I smile and gladly take their offerings in the hopes of finding a free pen or some sweets buried amongst the multitude of leaflets in their advertisement packs. I can feel the music pulsing through me at I get nearer to Ravelin Park, and I sense a twinge of excitement as I marvel at the huge number of sports clubs and societies there are on offer. You could never join them all – though what a blast it would be if you could! And I can’t really complain about queuing for one (or six) free slices of pizza from the Domino’s stand.

What to my younger self seemed like pure disorder has actually become one of my favourite times of the academic year. I now come back from Fresher’s feeling pumped and tingling, enthused to start a new year of study.

I was even lucky enough to spend this Fresher’s Fayre with a great bunch of my friends, representing the Japanese Language and Culture Society. How strange it was to be on the other side of this whole little festival. No longer was I the bemused boy wandering around in confusion – now I was the guy behind the stall, standing with the kimono girls and telling potential members about our great new society. It was a lot of fun!

The moral? Enjoy Freshers Fayre, and seriously sign up to some clubs. Any clubs. There’s no excuse for not finding at least one which interests you. Please take it from me: you will have a load more fun at uni if you get involved and meet some new people!  

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Free time, Island Experience, Nightlife, The city, Travels

Let the (productive) Summer begin!

It’s nearly been one whole month since my last ever Second Year exam, and I still don’t feel I’ve fully recovered! Apart from spending some time with friends and family, I’ve mainly been composing myself, mentally and physically, from all the exciting (and sometimes stressful) events which have taken place in my Second Year. There always seemed to be so much happening all at once – but then, that’s life, I suppose!

As I do on any break, I’ve been enjoying a few lie-ins, and spending days with no particular goal in mind. If I’m honest, it’s the first time in a long while I’ve allowed myself to relax – probably because I’m feeling very happy and secure with my degree, and also that it has dawned on me how very little time there is before I must once again re-enter the scary world of work!

Last summer, I must admit I found myself a little bored at times. This year, however, I’m already feeling the time will go by quicker than I would like, which in a strange way is quite a nice thing. I know friends who are staying in Portsmouth, I have some great family holidays planned, I have an Xbox360 on which I can duel fearsome aliens in the distant future, and I have a feeling I should probably start looking into that dissertation thingy! So it’s fair to say I shouldn’t be bored over the next couple of months.

I’ve got my results back from this year, and I’m ecstatic that I am on my way to a First class degree. It’s been a very fun, and productive, Second Year. This should continue into a very fun summer break. And yeah, I’ll try and be a bit productive as well!

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Clubs and societies, Course, Exams, Free time, Future, Nightlife, Travels

“The last week back…”

So here it is. The last week back to University for this year, or for life for some. Coming back to University after Easter means no more lectures; it means a lot of free time, where we have hardly any responsibilities, apart from paying bills and revision (duh!), but students are experts at working around these 😉 I was looking forward to my week back, but it proved to be very busy and EXTREMELY stressful!

This week was the week when I had two interviews to attend. On Thursday I had my dissertation interview, which is similar to vivas the PhD students need to do. Everyone was really nervous about them, as our year group was the first one to do them in our department. What definitely didn’t help the stress levels were the people on facebook who complained about how badly their interviews went.

I personally think my interview went really well. As soon as they called me into the interview room, I felt calmer. I think it’s the wait that made me anxious more than the actual interview. It is also worth mentioning here that I’ve now learnt not to listen to other people when it comes to individual assessments like this one. If their interview didn’t go well, why should it mean that mine will be a flop as well? I left the interview relaxed, but unfortunately this was not the end of stressful events for me…

Friday was the day I had my postgraduate interview with King’s College. I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed about anything before. Not even that one exam last year when I was convinced I was going to fail it (I got 40 so I was so close!). In the interview, I had to present a research proposal, which unfortunately was a total flop. I was losing all my hope until we got to the more practical questions. These went okay, so I’m hoping I at least got an average number of points. But trust me, words cannot describe how happy and relieved I was after I left the Institute of Psychiatry.

To release all the stress and frustration, as well as to forget about my questionable performance at the interview, I spent the rest of the day in London. In the evening I went to see one of my favourite bands at the O2 Academy Islington! This was exactly what I needed! Jumping, dancing and singing along to your favourite songs is by far the best way to get rid of negative energy! To add to that experience, I was lucky enough to meet the band after the show. We had our photo taken, and they signed my poster, which already hangs on my wall in a special place 🙂 I don’t think I need to say how knackered I was at the end of the day!

Saturday was the first day during the week when I could actually sleep in for a little bit longer. It was also a good time to finally get together with my friends, who I haven’t seen since before Easter! We ended up going to the Union for Psychology Society’s Summer Blowout event, with the summer being in the name only. For the end of April it was quite cold… But as long as you have your friends around you, nothing else matters. These get togethers will be one of the things I will miss next year. But for now, we need to make the most of the time we’ve got left.

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Clubs and societies, Course, Free time, Island Experience, Nightlife, The city

Rest and Reflection

After the rush, panic and stress of March, a week at home has been greatly enjoyed. My room is still a mess with draft essays, bits of speeches, bank statements and library books strew about the place. That tends to happen when I’m ultra-focussed on work (or should that be ultra-panicked by work)? I really need to give my room a good clean-out, but I decided that it was okay to leave it a few more days, just to relax a bit. After all, it’s my first week off since Christmas! Studying and socialising tends to sap my energy rather quickly, so this week I’ve been unashamedly lying in bed, watching TV and playing my Gameboy.

I also took a look at my blogs from last year, and I was hit by a sudden sense of maturity. Back then I was but a Fresher! How different it all seems being a Second Year student!

I really feel pleased that I lived up to my commitment this year to give new things a go: I hosted my own radio show on Pure FM, wrote a couple of articles for the student newspaper The Galleon, and I did a fair amount of socialising with my friends from the Japanese Society. I also worked for the University as a Student Mentor in a local school and was involved in another school-based project. And somehow I managed to fit in a lot of studying. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.

It made me think of when I was at the pub quite a while ago, chatting with my Geology-studying friend. At the time, he was telling me about his own Second Year experience which seemed so distant to me at the time. And now I find myself having nearly completed my own Second Year (and my friend on his way to a PhD no less). Has the time really gone that quickly?

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Blake's View, Clubs and societies, Course, Free time, Island Experience, Nightlife, Sport, Travels

Blake’s View: It’s Not What You Know

They say it’s not what you know in life, but who you know.

It might seem strangely ironic coming from a University student, but the greatest thing I’ve learned so far is the truth of this statement!

Reading Richard’s recent post ‘Friends will be Friends’ really got me thinking.

You see, like my fellow blogger, I had never really ‘met’ anyone who was not British before. Sure, I had been on holiday to foreign lands. But all the friends I had ever had were British. It seemed likely to continue that way for ever.

Yet, one of the best things about University for me has been meeting new people, people who in my average life I would never have had reason to meet. By joining societies, learning a new language and participating in extracurricular activities, I now have friends from far-flung corners of my own country, as well as a variety of places in Europe, Africa and Asia.

People will tell you that University is all about studying, gaining ‘life skills’ or just getting the certificate to improve your prospects of employment. Certainly these were the main reasons in my mind when I convinced myself to give a University degree a second chance. In fact, they’re all good things about University.

But if you look a little deeper, you start to realise that University provides a meeting ground for a wide range of individuals, with different backgrounds, beliefs and abilities. If you make the effort to join a society, take up a sport or learn a language, you will find that you encounter an amazing array of new people. People who, under normal circumstances, you may never have met.

In the future, the friends I have made here will allow me to have new experiences, visit new places, and learn new things. I’ve really enjoyed studying the Americas in my course. But the best thing I will take away with me will be the friends I have made, the happy memories they have provided, and some fantastic opportunities for the future.

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Blake's View, Clubs and societies, Course, Free time, Island Experience, Nightlife, The city

Blake’s View: New Friends in Old Photographs

I’ve been studying Japanese since I started my degree. In the first year I took it as an optional unit, and this year I’m studying for credit. I remember last year, about February time, I was quite stressed out. Exams and essay deadlines were looming. It isn’t much different this year. There’s loads to do!

At that time, a group of Japanese students joined us in our Japanese classes for a few weeks, and some photographs were taken. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Other things were on my mind.

Twelve months later, and the Japanese have once again been and left town. I took a look at the fresh snaps taken this year, and I started to reminisce about the images from one year ago.

Looking back at myself, not only do I see a change in my clothes and haircut, but I sense an even greater change has taken place below the surface. That was Blake 20.0, and now I’m Blake 21.0. It’s a weird feeling, but it feels good that I have changed.

That past time seems cloudy, hazy – more like a dream. It makes me think about all the things that were my concerns then. Many of them are probably the same – getting assignments finished, making plans for the summer, and feeling like there isn’t enough time to relax. Even if the situations are similar, the way I react to them is undoubtedly different, because of all I’ve learned during the year.

Yet I was further surprised as I scrolled through the year-old photos. I saw the faces of people who I now meet on a regular basis – in Japanese class, and socially (such as at our recent visit to London). At the time, these people were unknown to me – just faces in the crowd, strangers. Now, I am lucky enough to call some of those people my friends. So I realise that new friends are all around us, even if we don’t know it.

It makes me think of the future. When I look at my current photographs in one year’s time, how much will I have changed again? Will I still remember who I was, how I was feeling and all my concerns about the present? What about in ten years, or in fifty years?

And what about those faces in the photographs – will they still be my friends, or will they have returned to the realm of obscurity from which they came? Time keeps moving on.

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