Archive | September, 2011

First week, done!

22 Sep

 Well, I’ve survived my first week of classes! It’s been a whirlwind of exhausted rambling, 2 mile walks, illegible notes and an abundance of hot-chocolate and lempsips (Freshers’ Flu is an absolute killer), but I made it out of my last lecture today still conscious! Yay!

I now have a three day weekend (which is why I love Glasgow University and their amazing timetables!!) to work on my ‘to-do list’. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this who knows me, but my new friends seem shocked by the fact it’s five pages long. First on the list is to put in a request with the accommodation folk to fix the lock in the shower. Twice now, after the trying ordeal of switching the shower off, I’ve been left standing in just my towel wondering if I have the strength to knock the door down or if I’d have to get someone to take the lock off, and see me practically starkers, dripping wet and blue from the cold. Thankfully, I’ve managed to open the door both times, using only my flip-flop and a bottle of shampoo. Probably best not to ask. I should mention, actually, that the reason I’ve been having such a time of it when turning the shower off is that it doesn’t have a cord, or on/off button like I have at home and every time I go to turn it off, I forget that, when you twist the dial all the way from 8 to zero, you turn the temperature all the way down to what I’m pretty certain, is almost into minus figures.

I’m slowly getting used to the little oddities of my flat. The ice blast in the shower is a great motivator for learning these things quickly. It’s the little things that cause the most bother now, like the electric cooker. I’ve only ever used gas and cooking without a flame means I don’t know how hot the ring is, or if it’s on at all. I soon find out though, either when smoke starts pouring out of my pasta or after fifteen minutes staring at my porridge wondering why it’s not cooked yet.

Similarly, it is the little things that cause me the most homesickness now. Last week, every time I spoke to my parents on Skype, or on the phone, every time I thought to go into the living room to watch t.v., every time I looked around and saw all of my things in a strange room, in a strange flat, in a strange city, it was reason for tears and worry. Now, it’s things like, wholemeal bread instead of white, eating lemon curd in my porridge with out looks of disgust and having hot chocolate and marshmallows for breakfast that make me stop and get that tingly, butterfly feeling in my stomach. My friend suggested it may well be the lemon curd and breakfast hot chocolate that’s giving me the ‘tingly’ stomach, but I’m pretty sure I just miss home. I’ve done better this week keeping my emotions under control, though. There’s been much less tears and fears this week than last.

Perhaps that’s just because I’m too exhausted to feel or think anything more complicated than ‘must not fall asleep during lectures’. I’ve started doing the things I used to do last year, when my insomnia was really bad; putting toast in the fridge, leaving the flat for Uni in my slippers, speaking to inanimate objects, etc. The last one was actually my attempt to get over writers’ block. I don’t know why I thought having a conversation with my alarm clock would help, but it definitely didn’t.

My worry about falling asleep during lectures has been pointless though, I’m far too fascinated by what’s going on in them to fall asleep. English Literature is great, we’re studying poetry just now and it’s something I have a lot of trouble analysing, so the information they’re giving us is really useful. I find it odd that I used to write a lot of poetry but know absolutely nothing about it’s structure, style, rhythm, metre etc. I assume most people who have read my attempts at poetry would not be as surprised as I am that I have no idea how a poem works, but there we go.

Theology and Religious Studies is absolutely brilliant. In higher RMPS last year we spent months going over the Buddhist religion, and we’re now expected to know the same amount of detail for Islam, Christianity and Judaism but we only have three weeks for each one. I don’t have the slightest idea how I’m going to manage to do so but I’m definitely looking forward to attempting it! And Philosophy is good too, not as interesting as Theology or English yet, but I imagine if I actually read the works we’re discussing (Rene Descartes’ Meditations) I’d probably find it a lot more informative!

That’s what I’m planning to do over this weekend, if I ever manage to complete my to-do list, read the books for my subjects. I have so many, I’m completely overwhelmed. Who would have thought an English Lit student would have a lot of reading to do?

I should say thank you, at this point, for all the messages I got after my last post. To be honest, I’m just surprised anyone bothered to read it. You have no idea how shocked I am when I check the blog and see that I’ve had thirty-odd views a day since I put it up. Even stranger, is that people are actually searching for my blog on Google! Some people have lees to do with themselves than I thought! But it’s lovely to hear feedback, do feel free to comment again.

Anyway, I’m going to go now I have a Jane Austen Society Pub Crawl on tonight. Yes, I’m just that cool. Bye!

 

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Freshers’ week

17 Sep

I’m starting this blog after being pestered by two of my friends, who are now hundreds miles away from me and want to keep up with what I’m doing, as well as read some of my short stories and poems, which should eventually make their way onto this blog.
I moved up to Glasgow a week ago to attend Glasgow University Freshers’ Week, which has been much harder than I had ever imagined it could be. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a week since I left.
Like a lot of Fresher students arriving in Glasgow this week, I’m from a small village and have spent the majority of my first week here wandering around in a daze. The sheer size of Glasgow- with it’s never ending roads, it’s buildings stretching higher than appears physically possible, the intense mass of people- is one of the most intimidating experiences I have ever encountered.
I know this shouldn’t have taken me by surprise. Although I live more than two hours away I have been to Glasgow a few times, and pass through it quite regularly while on my way visiting family who live up north. I have seen all of these aspects of Glasgow but I was completely unprepared for actually experiencing it first hand.
It wasn’t too bad at first, I had my parents with me on Saturday, showing me around the city, so I hadn’t lost the feeling of protection that you feel when someone you can rely on is with you who knows what they are doing. It was an entirely different matter when I attempted the journey myself.
When I first walked down Byres Road from Murano Student Village (my accommodation) a wave of noise crashed over me, the smell of the different restaurants and chippies was thick in the air, the rain and wind from the tail end of a hurricane which had hit America the week before pulled me in one direction while the huge, jostling crowd forced me in another, I was bombarded by Freshers’ “Helpers” and sales folk offering me leaflets for free this and half price that and, to make matters worse, I had absolutely no idea where I was going or what I was planning to do. I felt completely lost and absolutely terrified and I didn’t have anyone to turn to for help.
I think that was when the reality of the situation finally sunk in. Before I had left home none of it was real; it was like all the plans I had made, all the discussions I’d had, even all the packing I’d done, had been for someone else. I had spent so long preparing for this, both at school working to meet my conditions, and over the summer organising my courses and filling in the infinite amount of paperwork, that I hadn’t even stopped to think about what it all meant. Then, all of a sudden, everything was happening at once. I didn’t have a spare minute to take it all in.
From that point everything happened so fast that, in all honesty, I still haven’t been able to just sit down and try and make sense of anything. Keeping busy during the day has helped me through this first week with fewer mental breakdowns than expected. I just don’t have the time, during the day, to sit and become overwhelmed by my situation. It was Sunday that I realised this, after getting a tour of Glasgow by my big cousin Amy. When I came back I was able to speak to my parents on Skype without instantly bursting into tears. So since then I’ve done everything possible to keep busy. This was the advice I got earlier in the year when I was trying to cope with depression – keep busy, don’t sit about doing nothing because it won’t help. This advice worked out quite well during the day.
I’ve spent the week visiting Freshers’ Fairs during which I signed up to far too many clubs and societies, taking the advice of someone far older and wiser and using a fake email for the ones I don’t want to join but was too polite to declined, Comedy shows, debates, inductions and drinks with new friends, which has been the unexpected highlight of my week.
Meeting new people has never been something I’m good at. I don’t have the confidence to just go up to people and strike up a conversation which has been the main worry for both myself and my parents. That said, I’ve managed to meet a few nice people this week and spending some time with them has made this week easier than it would have been if I had just locked myself away, like I’ve often felt like doing.
As soon as night arrived it was a completely different matter though. It’s not just my own lack of self-confidence that has kept me in at night this week. I have too many health problems to go out getting hammered with people who don’t know exactly what’s wrong and how to handle it and, although my flatmates all seem lovely, I’m not quite able to speak to them about my health issues. Not to mention that it’s really not fair on them if I end up fainting or becoming ill when they’re out.
So my nights have generally been spent alone in my room. It’s during this time that things start to fall apart. I know that I should be using that time to relax and take stock of everything that has happened, but I don’t. It scares me too much that if I start to think about what’s happened, and what’s going to happen, I’m going to regret the decision to come here.
I’ve spent a lot of time on Skype talking to my parents at night, which has helped somewhat, and coming home has calmed me down a lot. Now that I’m here I’ve got time, and space to figure out what’s what and get my bearings. Hopefully when I go back on Sunday I’ll have started to see things a bit more clearly. I know it’ll take time to settle down and get into a routine and things, but hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later!
Any way, I’ve rambled on for way too long already so I’m going to go now. Just one last thing to say, which is that I’ve never kept a blog before, and have never felt the desire to do so, so it may take a little while for me to get used to this. I’ve always thought that writing a blog, which you know no-one is going to read, is pretty self-indulgent, and a bit of a waste of time. But my friends are becoming way too insistent on the matter, and I’ve given in and agreed to a trial week to see if I can be bothered keeping it up. The wonders of peer pressure, aye!

JH