Sunday, 12 October 2008

Hello, Nowich!

It's the strangest feeling in the world to look back over three insanely quick weeks which have happened entirely without the slightest hint of a blog. I have been so busy, and time has passed very quickly like the roller coaster at great yarmouth pleasure beach. (We're visiting there in a few weeks time, Christian Union weekend away!). It seems a lifetime ago that we pulled up at UEA after a three hour drive and I scrambled out of the car and went to collect my keys, clutching my handbag full of last minuite essentials and my seriously cool dennis the menace folder containing highly important health forms and accomodation information. A bunch of older students were kindly on hand to help my family and I transport the masses of stuff I brought with me out of the car and up three floors of Colman House into flat 15, room L. Whilst the car journey here seems a horrible and distant memory, time here has gone so quickly- in a whirlwind of meeting new people, induction lectures, LCR club nights and church visits. Life at home in Leicester feels like a different world- the UEA campus is such a bubble! I've ventured out into the city a fair bit though and have discovered that Iceland is the place to be, creating for myself a golden iceland rule (never buy anything for more than £1!).

Coming to university is probably the most challenging experience I've ever had. At times I've been really homesick, more than I thought I would be. But It's been on the whole a really positive experience, and university is starting to feel a little bit more like home. I love UEA already- not quite yet in the same way that I love Groby Community College, (I'm not sure that love will ever be equalled) but the campus is incredible. The lake is beautiful- somehow the weather has been half decent for us, and there have been some amazing sun sets. On the campus there are literally hundreds and hundreds of bunnies hopping around all over the paths, and sometimes in the mornings, when it is bright and misty, I can watch the occasional hot air balloon going over the hill I can see from our kitchen window. I'm getting used to it now- but I really miss home. I'm happier now I can envision a routine emerging from somewhere- and I'll be even happier if i can somehow miraculously rediscover that hardocre work ethic that A levels contained. I really want to do well at my degree, but I'm quite scared and not feeling all that confident in my scientific abilities to manage it all- so this is going to be some challenge. Especially when our timetable is horrific to the point it made one of my flatmates genuinely shout in horror. In true style, I've pretty much filled my week up to the brim with stuff, but I'm hoping things will calm down soon enough. Not to say that I want life to get any less crazy- just that I'm so glad that Groby taught me to work hard play hard- I just want to rediscover that work ethic!

There is so much I could say, that I could write on and on forever. I nearly cried paying for an excessive amount of hefty pharmacy books in waterstones the other day, then practically broke my back carrying them back up three flights of stairs. I've been so wonderfully welcomed into the CU girls football team, despite possibly being detrimental to the cause of good football, and my lack of even semi-appropriate footwear! I've been 'church-hopping' quite happily with some really good friends I've met along the way, and gladly recieved quite a large number of free student meals so kindly made for us by churches here there and everywhere in Norwich! I'm so pleased that I've come to Norwich. It really is a fine city!

The Cathedral here is beautiful. In fact, there are two Cathedrals! And a Castle! I've seen the riverside only briefly in the dark, and so I can't wait to see it all in the day. There are cobbled streets with small special shops, and there are two big shopping centres! Norwich is much bigger than Leicester, but still feels like a small town. I can't wait until it's all familiar to me.

The oncoming workload, which is kind of already upon me but i’m just ignoring it, is one of epic proportions. I need Sue Woolhouse (my old physics teacher) here to spur me on with stickers. I told mum that I’ve been having problems getting down to do some actual work so she did what all great mums would do..sent me a parcel containing a sock full of marbles. The marble jar method lives on! With my coloured pens at the ready, I’m ready to learn...well, kind of.
By the end of Fresher’s week, as I’d been told would be the case, I’d met hundreds of people, but knew no one really. I’ve found it so much harder than i thought i would, and I’m still looking forward to when everywhere becomes familiar. I remember feeling exactly the same on my first few days at Groby Community College. I couldn’t wait to just be a student, rather than a new student, to feel completely at home and to know my way around. But I know now as I’m entering into my fourth week at UEA that although it will take longer,after the same familiarisation process, I’ll probably love UEA just as much as Groby CC. Despite being desperate for familiarity in my first few days at college, I found myself in my last few weeks wishing to be a new student again, with everything ahead of me. I keep having moments of bizarre realisation and I remember where I am, and that I’m doing a degree. Its like ‘woah, what, I’m actually old enough to be at uni?’. How have I got so old?
The Christian Union here is really exciting. At the first meeting there were so many people crammed into a really small space-but it was excellent to see so many smiling faces. The talk was on the book of Esther, which was excellent as I’ve been reading Esther recently, and we were swept along afterwards by some older students to the Wine press in the city, where it became evident that the church-pub-church routine I’m so used to at home isn’t going to be any different in Norwich. The older students from CU have been so good to us- it is exciting to come to a group of people who are so clearly up for glorifying God through what they do. After the last couple of Tuesday night fancy dress LCR’s (basically union club nights) I’ve joined a group of people who give out free hot chocolate to people leaving the LCR. Such a great idea, and it’s so exciting the conversations you can have with strangers through such a simple act.
University life is in so many ways exactly what I thought it would be, but in some ways different. I’ve lived on pasta, and decided as a rough guideline that its best only to buy groceries that cost no more than a pound from Iceland.
Today was Saturday. I spent the morning in bed and woke up at the ridiculous time of 12.45pm, did two and a half hours of biology, because i know nothing about biology yet, and got dressed just in time to miss the union food shop opening hours. Sad times. I’ve just spent the evening at a CU girls football social, where we ate lots of sweeties and watched she’s the man. I came home via Katie’s flat for a cup of tea and a giggle.
Today being Saturday means that tomorrow is Sunday, time for church- which I’m really looking forward to! I’m going to Kings Community Church in the morning, though I don’t know If I will make it my home. In some respects I know it doesn’t matter where I go as long as I go willing to learn and to serve, and their teaching is tops. But I want to choose the place where my small offering in terms of service to the church can have the biggest benefit to whichever church I go to. I’d like to know that I can really do something for my church in Norwich.

Anyway, things here are fun. This week I’ve been for a Chinese all you can eat buffet with the Revelation Rock Gospel choir, Christian union, a wild west fancy dress night, helped give free hot chocolate to the masses, dropped into Po Na Na’s a couple of times which was fun although I’m keen to check out some of the other clubs in Norwich next week, despite a hectic timetable. I’ve left a note in the kitchen to try and persuade my flatmates we need to spend more time together and order pizza which seems to be partially successful so far, and it’s the birthday of one of my coursemates this week which calls for dinner out once again. Unfortunately this means i’ll almost definitely miss the CU cocktail party but It’ll be good to go out with the pharmacy girls. I am still keen to do things I haven’t done yet, like see riverside in the daylight, look around the castle and check out the pub-scene which i’ve heard is wonderful. Sadly Michael says that he can’t visit on Seth Lakeman weekend which is unfortunate because i haven’t yet met any folkies here...hopefully I’ll find a folk loving friend before then! Mum and Dad say they might visit me in a few weekends time. Although every lecture leaves me wishing I’d brought with me my a level notes I really cant go home to get them, the train fare is apparently obscene, and I fear that going home would make me really quite homesick again!
I keep having moments where I find being at university completely and utterly surreal. I can’t quite believe I’m old enough to be here yet, and slowly I’m mastering small tasks one after the other.! next adventure..chicken and rice. I hadn’t realised quite how bad my food situation has become, until just now. I’m yet to open my massive tub of rice (haven’t yet progressed from pasta to rice!) but I’m thinking its time to branch out, really learn and get some curry on the go...although I may have to call upon the assistance of someone else to help me get started. For the next few days, apart from a couple of mini frozen £1 pizza’s from Iceland, i basically have have is a couple of yoghurts, a banana, some crumbly wheatabix,a few fish fingers and lots of baked beans/tinned spaghetti. Should have gone food shopping but i couldn’t wake up...good old student lifestyle!
I’ve made a good few friends here, from seemingly all over the place, a few closer than others. To begin with, I felt quite lonely, but now I feel as though I know lots more people. Looking round at the university itself I couldn’t be happier about where I’ve chosen to study. Even the concrete buildings look good to me and everyone has been really friendly. The lake, and the rabbits are amazing, and somehow every day here the sky is an amazing colour.

I think I’ve written quite enough, although I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface when thinking about everything that has happened over the last 3 weeks. I was going to keep a seriously up to date scrap book (summer style) detailing everything I do ever at university this year, but I think this was somewhat ambitious. I guess it won’t be until I get home at Christmas and have to tell everyone everything that I realise just how much there is to tell. Life in Norwich and Life in Leicester feel at the moment like two completely separate lives, although I’m in contact quite a bit with home. There are so many thoughts and feelings that I’ve thought and felt the last few weeks which won’t even be remembered never mind mentioned when i get home to Groby at Christmas, simply because so much more will happen before I go home that they’ll be masses of things to say to people. Its very strange. The simplest things will have to be explained.

So there we are. My first UEA blog. Hello, Norwich! I’m sorry (mainly to myself) that its taken so long, but there’s a brief snapshot of how life here works, I never want to stop blogging, but things have been so crazy. I definately need to get down to some serious work. But for now, let me say, goodnight. x

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