The sun came out this week. And with it came the shorts, flip flops and beach parties that made us all forget for a brief moment that it is still only March.  Unfortunately for me, I spent most of this week in my room alternately writing my essay and banging my head against my desk. The essay is now complete and ready to hand in on Monday. The bruises may take a little longer to go away!

By Thursday, the sun had gone and been replaced by thick fog. Outside my window visibility was down to a horror movie style few feet and trees creaked eerily in the twilight. And there were bats. Yep. That’s right. Actual bats. Fluttering about like leathery bowties of the night. There could well have been anything in that fog.  I decided I could live without the outdoors, and we made garlic bread. Just to be on the safe side.

This week I’ve been doing my bit in front of camera, being filmed for the University website, keep an eye out for me and some friends sat on Consti trying not to make it look rehearsed (it wasn’t I assure you!). I’ve also been helping some final year film students with their project. My character is called “Pete” and I am a studio executive having problems with a blocked writer, so no type casting there!

As I have said previously, the great thing about Aber is there is so much going on.  Saturday found me at Arad Goch, one of the theatre spaces in town, watching Broad-Ways Theatre Society and their one act play festival. Eight plays all written, directed and performed by Aber Students, all for four quid. Bargain! This weekend has also been the Weekend of Superteams, where sports teams compete against each other in a variety of events to win the coveted Superteam Title!  The mystery event this year seemed to involve mud. Lots of mud. It also possibly involved a few drinks and a lot of banter. Most things here seem to and everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves. Even the poor guy I saw expiring behind the Students’ Union. He was unable to breathe (I think he had been running up and down stairs for a while) but he was unable to breathe in happy way!

Monday’s flat inspection was passed successfully, even allowing for a last minute clean of the oven (one of those things where everyone thought everyone else had done it). And of course a little help from Lucius, who has still not let me forget he was referred to by the inspector as “You little spotty darling.” I do wish they wouldn’t, it just makes him conceited and unbearable.

It seems a little strange that there is only four weeks left of this term.  Then three weeks of Easter holidays and I will be starting my last term at Aber.  Where has that time gone? I have no idea. And what comes next? Even less idea.  Still. That is what makes life brilliant and terrifying all at the same time. The not knowing. What is coming next? What is in the fog?  Garlic bread?

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Evening Sun in Aber
“Little Spotty Darling” with his inspection pass

Hello there!

Very sorry to be a bit late with my blog for you this week – just having moved house recently the internet is still a little… sporadic! Other than minor internet fiascos and essay-writing, I’ve not been up to a great deal this week, so I thought I’d focus on something more ‘topical’.

Moving into a house with my fiancé though got me thinking about all my other accommodation experiences at Uni.

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Halls are something that most students experience at one time or another. I never really thought about how odd the concept is until I was leaving to live in Aberystwyth: how strange it is to move in with between five and twenty-something people you’ve never met before, share with them your living spaces, your bathroom, in some cases even your actual bedroom, with no idea of what they’re like. My fiancé and I did things backwards really – we met by moving in together.

In all honesty, I didn’t love halls. It’s one thing to be friends with people, but entirely another to live together. It puts a whole new spin on the tiniest things – not cleaning the bathroom and using a drop of someone else’s milk sound like minor indiscretions, but they can easily become the centre of flat-dividing rows, somehow. In halls, I learned some things about how horrible, biased and ridiculous people can be.

More importantly though, I learned how horrible, biased and ridiculous I myself can be.

Don’t get me wrong – the majority of people I know enjoyed halls, and still enjoy living with friends. It’s all part of ‘the Uni experience’. Although now in my third year I just live with my fiancé (there’s that atypical student thing again), last year we lived with a friend, and it was great. The feeling of companionship that you get by living with other people in a little hothouse of Uni-ness is great – you’re never really on your own, and feeling lonely was one of my biggest worries before I came here. Halls really helped dispel that anxiety, because there was always something to do, someone to talk to. When you have a dilemma about whether to go on a social or stay in and write your essay, there’s someone around that you can talk to – even if their advice isn’t always helpful and you end up writing your essay with a hangover the next afternoon.

Whether or not you’ll enjoy halls, I can’t say. I do believe though that it’s a great part of being a student. Whether you make lifelong friends, learn how to let go of the little things or learn something about yourself, you will have something to take away from it. Even if it’s just a talent for making book forts in Pentre Jane Morgan lounge.

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Hello there!

Today I’m a little rambly and disorganised – I have been all week. So this post will be generally of an update about what i’m getting up to.

It’s a funny time of term when everything settles into a routine and usually I’d be feeling very settled by now, but things keep happening that throw me!

So, this week I missed a really important seminar because I was feeling ill. There’s some kind of virus going around, so instead I spent the day in my jammies trying to write some of my dissertation but getting nowhere, as I had a cloudy head and the shakes. I haven’t really gotten rid of it yet, but fortunately by Tuesday I was feeling up to getting out and about, as I was unexpectedly busy. We had to unexpectedly clear our old accommodation, although we had another two and a bit weeks on the tenancy, as someone desperately needed a place to stay.

I’ve finally gotten myself booked with a driving instructor, which is exciting. I didn’t learn when all my friends were, aged 17, because I just wasn’t ready or really bothered. One of the beauties of Aber is that you don’t need to drive to get about – everything is in easy walking distance, and there’s buses everywhere else. I’m only learning now because my fiancé and I have moved a bit outside of town and although the buses are brilliant, it will make things a little easier – in the long term!

Essays are starting to loom as well. I have a very long list of books to borrow from the library and articles to print that I’ll be on the trail of tomorrow. I’m someone who actually enjoys essays, but the reading for this one looks like it’s going to take a long time!

Today I am making a round trip to Shrewsbury for a hospital appointment, so I leave you at Borth station, to get out my reading for tomorrow’s seminar, and pop in my headphones. I hope you are all well and not too soggy, whatever corner of the country you’re reading from!

This week I’d got it all planned what I was going to talk about. It’s the middle of February, we’re all busy with lectures and assignments and the like, not a lot going on. So I was going to present for your titillation a little sidebar for anyone thinking about applying to study at Aber.  I was. But, as is so often the case, something happened. So the sidebar will have to wait.

I got a message from my mate James, who does various things for the University (he’s a grown-up..well, I say grown-up…) asking if I had some spare time to show a prospective student around. She had arrived at Aber from waterlogged Somerset to take her scholarship exams. One on Tuesday, the other on Thursday. So after a bit of random emailing, which began to look like a really terrible blind date by the end (I’ll be the one wearing the Red, Yellow and Black scarf etc.) I met Emily for coffee in Wetherspoons. By this time, as I often do, I had roped in another friend, Rhi, who is doing Genetics in the hope she would be able to answer prospective Zoologist Emily’s questions about IBERS.  And we went from there. I’d like to say I think it was our insight into student life and the way we answered her questions about the course and halls of residence that clinched the deal. However I think it was probably the Hot Chocolate and Churros from Ultracomida that we have to thank.  We dropped off Emily at her B & B in town and having arranged for her to attend some lectures the following day in IBERS we thought it was a job well done.  (Just hold that thought for a moment, we’ll be back to it in a bit.)

Wednesday was the day I was giving my Pride-Faith speech in the Arts Centre. It’s all part of LGBT+ Month. I got asked to talk about my faith, as a Roman Catholic, what it means to me and how I see the difficulties that are posed by the Church’s views on sexuality and gender.  There was also cake.  It was a little bit blustery as I left my Seminar and headed to the Arts Studio. Ironically for someone who at one point did a lot of acting, the one thing I really hate doing is standing up in front of a room full of people and talking to them . It went quite well. People laughed when they were supposed to and no one tried to play “Lynch the Papist”. Thirty seconds after I had said the words “Thank you for listening” an almighty, and rather worrying bang was heard.  A glass door had exploded in the high winds but everyone was looking at me like it was my fault.  Okay, Mea Culpa, I broke The Arts Centre.

And then the hurricane started.

Yes. Hurricane. Really.

Because we haven’t had enough cataclysmic weather this year.

Within an hour of the glass door exploding the Arts Centre was closed and evacuated, as were University Departments and Students were advised to return to their Halls of Residence.  And then the trees started coming down. Not just branches. Whole trees. A transit van got squashed flat coming up Penglais Hill, mercifully the driver wasn’t hurt.  Bits of roof and gutter started getting ripped off of buildings.

And now we return to Emily. Who has an exam on Thursday morning. And is currently sheltering from the third coming of the Aberpocalypse in Rhi’s flat.  Quite understandably, being seventeen and on her own, she was a little worried about the storms. A quick call and an email to some lovely people in the accommodation office and we sorted a room out for her on campus. One mercy dash into town to fetch her stuff from the B&B later and Emily was safely in Penbryn.  And then I took her to be safely in Cwrt Mawr, where of course, because the world was ending, some friends of mine were having a hat party.  Emily was asked if the events of the day had put her off coming here. Her answer was this: “No. I am so impressed with how it just got dealt with, and how nice everyone has been. I’ll see you all in September!!” I think she’s going to fit right in.

So that was how the week played out.  I was expecting a quiet one and I got that instead. I got to see the University through the eyes of someone who is just starting out on their big adventure. I got to talk to some lovely people about their faith and mine. And I got to see 107mph winds ripping trees out of the ground.  Oh, and I got hugged by two of the Pro-Vice Chancellors. Highlight of the week. The world needs more hugs.

Leopard Spot: This week, Lucius and Lazarus have mostly been hiding under the bed.

Trees Down on Campus
Trees Down on Campus
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Leopards under the bed!
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What happens when I’m allowed to get up and make speeches…

Today is our flat inspection. Somewhere in my room there is a very industrious spider, or possibly a gang of them. Overnight the little gits have sabotaged my carefully cleaned room by draping bits of gossamer all over it. It is too early in the morning to do anything about it, but rest assured once a decent hour for hovering has been struck the webs are going!

This Wednesday is Postgraduate Open Day. I am going to be an ambassador! (Really hoping at this point that Ambassadors don’t have to wear the yellow T-shirts of shame, especially as I have a nice shirt and tie combo all sorted!) Open Day is something well worth going to; it was what made me decide on Aber rather than my other choices. It isn’t just everyone on their best behaviour either. You can actually talk to real people, like me, who will give you an honest opinion. You can have a poke about the campus and the departments and of course go and visit the town.

I really recommend going into the town and having a wander about. Here at Aber, Town and Gown and inextricably linked. Unlike so many other places, where students are seen as a disturbance, here students are seen as a vital source of income for the town. As a result, Aber has some of the best student nightlife, pubs and offers in the country. Also, because of this wonderful symbiosis, Aber has a lot of shops and stores that you would not expect in a small seaside town.  And if none of that appeals to you: the seafront is quite pretty?

Anyway, the hour is upon me and time has run out for the cobwebs!

Mattress Protector: This is to protect you from the mattress. They do not buy new mattresses every year in halls. You will be sleeping on top of the blood, sweat, tears and other substances of at least three other people. And my top tip: Under no circumstances turn your mattress over. Unless you have a cast iron stomach. Or are stuck for a biology research idea. If there’s a bad stain on the top of your mattress, imagine what the bottom of it looks like.

DUCT TAPE: There is almost nothing that you cannot fix with Duct Tape. You can also use it to make cunning items of fancy dress.(Black for Darth Vader/ Batman, Silver for Robots/ Spacemen, White for Mummies/ Stormtroopers. (Warning: do not use it on bare skin or paintwork.)

TORCH: Get a wind up LED Torch. Never needs batteries. Never needs bulbs. Keep it with you. Always know where your torch is. Very handy for walking home late at night and all the usually torchy applications. In halls if the unthinkable happens and there is a fire or a building collapse it might just save your life. (When the IRA blew up the Grand Hotel in Brighton, Margaret Thatcher, who always carried a torch in her handbag, saved the lives of several people by getting them out of the building in the pitch black by torchlight.)

DressingGown: For fire alarms, late night bathroom visits, and extra warmth. Preserve what little dignity you will have and invest in a bathrobe!

Flip-Flops/ Shower Sandals: Mostly for people sharing communal bathrooms. People pee in the shower. People wank in the shower. People have fungal foot infections in the shower. If you don’t want to be standing in all of that, get flip flops. Never walk around halls barefoot. The hygiene thing is obvious, but, especially in kitchens, there could be broken glass, nails and other nasties on the floor.

Co-Codamol/ Berocca: Double check you are not allergic to the ingredients. This is the best hangover cure. If you remember and are in a state to do so, take it before you pass out. If not. First thing when you wake up.
Beechams All in One: You will get Freshers’ flu. This is because every germ in the world has come for a holiday in your lecture theatre. It becomes like an evil United Nations for germs for the first couple of weeks. The germs all get together. Then they decide to go invade somewhere. That’s where you come in. Beechams All in One deals with headache, cough, sore throat and blocked nose. Also consider getting Olbas Oil, some Lockets, a jar of honey and a lemon. Don’t try to tough it out. Don’t be a hero. And don’t think that just because you’ve had it once you won’t get it again. You will.

IKEA Bags: The big blue things from Ikea. Seriously useful. Much better than cardboard boxes as they are waterproof, don’t have tape that can break whilst you are carrying stuff to and from the car, and when not in use you can scrunch them up out of the way. You can also use them as a laundry basket/bag, a sledge in winter and for toting shopping around. Possibly the best 50p you will spend.

A Coat: Not having a coat is not cool and edgy. It is stupid. You need a coat. Get one. ‘Cause you are not borrowing mine.

A spare mobile phone: You will drop your phone. Probably in a toilet. You will break your phone. You might even lose it or have it stolen. To make sure this event is not a disaster, bring an old phone and charger with you. Load all your important numbers on to it. Get a PAYG Sim for it. Then when tragedy strikes you will only be incommunicado for as long as it takes you to charge up your spare phone. You can also use your spare phone as a “Night out” phone so you don’t have take your expensive I-phone or Smartphone to the pub.