When I got up at 4:30 yesterday morning, I wanted to crawl back into my bed and cry but for once, I had something important to do. On Saturday, I went and visited the University of East Anglia – the second Open Day I’ve been to (the other was Birmingham). After that, and it possibly the highlight of my month, I went and met Ocean – a blogger I’ve known for 2 years.
Driving to UEA took about 3 hours but strangely, by the end of the car journey, I wasn’t angry/exasperated at my father/exhausted from being in the same place for ages. Far from it: I felt full of energy. That didn’t fade as we stood in the queue for half an hour, waiting for the coaches to take us to the university itself. It was around 9:30 then and I managed to actually speak to someone my age in front of me in the queue. Typically, it was the kind of conversation which comprised the “what subjects are you doing?” questions but it was still something and I didn’t turn into a stuttering mess.
As I did with Birmingham, we went and saw the Student Support services first to find out about what kinds of ‘reasonable adjustments’ (as it’s called) they can put in place for me, such as extra time or maybe provisions for a Guide Dog if I end up getting one. That sent us to the Accommodation stand and I awkwardly explained my ‘needs’ to them. Although they haven’t had a severely sight impaired student for about 4 years, I was really pleased with how they were extremely open to putting in place measures to help me; all the staff in fact were very friendly. It eased the anxiety I felt considerably about the whole process.
During the course of the day, I went to four talks and an accommodation tour. The latter experience was very positive: I liked the feel of the buildings and it all seemed very centralised; there’s a village about 15 minutes walk from the campus itself but seeming as I’d need to concentrate on learning the campus in my first year, I thought it might be best if we looked at the accommodation on campus instead. We saw three buildings and I liked them all; the nicest, newest (and most expensive sadly) was my favourite simply because it seemed very spacious. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a good criterion for measuring whether I would like it or not but an important thing for me is that I hate feeling trapped.
At one point, whilst my dad and I were walking across the campus, I had a minor crisis about the amount of followers I had. It’s so weird to think that over 2000 people have clicked the follow button – it’s incredible to me that so many people have read my words, in whatever capacity. My dad listened to my ramblings and it felt great because I knew what I was talking about.
The best talk I went to was the one on Personal Statements. All but the English talk was held in a small hall and each person wore headphones so that they wouldn’t have to project their voice. This didn’t detract from the experience and actually made it feel more personalised. Afterwards, and without fear, I walked straight up to the woman who held the talk and asked her if I could put my blog in my Personal Statement. The answer was a resounding “yes” and she clarified that I didn’t have to say the name or anything that could identify it. This means that I can talk about what I love so much, which directly relates to the course I want to do. I left that talk feeling so much better about my opportunities!
I really did like the sound of student life and the amount of societies; it was presented by two students who spoke to us like we were human and not children about all the different things we can do. I really felt like it connected us to the idea of getting involved in student life. After having had lunch and seeing the street with shops and bars (it was adorable), I went to the English Literature and Creative Writing talk with my dad. The interesting thing about this course is that there are no end of year exams; all your modular grades and pieces of writing are added up which comprise your degree. The Creative Writing part is roughly a third of the degree. Sadly, I couldn’t talk much to the lecturer afterwards but I honestly felt more confident about everything despite the prestige of UEA as a Creative Writing university.
I really liked this uni, overall. I’ve got to be honest: the course didn’t thrill me as much as I’d like but perhaps that’s because I have high standards. The campus was more to my taste: I could tell where everything was and I knew I wouldn’t get very overwhelmed. I’ll have to give it time; I loved it but I have no idea if I loved it enough to study it. What made it so worthwhile to me was the enthusiasm of the lecturers and the people who spoke; I felt as if they loved the place and it made me fall in love with it that little bit more. Who knows? I need to see more universities before I decide on anything.
At around 4, we travelled into Norwich to meet Ocean. Because I’ve known her for 2 years and she was one of the first blogging friends I had, I didn’t feel that nervous. Of course, the excitement grew and grew as we got closer to our meeting point and I kept smiling because finally I was going to meet one of the people I admired the most. Honestly, it’s always a dream come true for me when I meet an internet friend because they n have any judgements; about you save for what you show them which, in Ocean’s case, was always my true self.
As soon as we met each other we hugged and spent a while absorbing that this was actually happening. Unfortunately, we only had an hour but it was an hour I won’t forget in a hurry. We walked round the high street and went to Café Nero: she’s really good at guiding me and unlike when you meet someone you don’t know, she knew how to help me almost instinctively which was so lovely. By the way, raspberry lemonade exists (I found that out yesterday) and it is utterly glorious.
All throughout this, we talked. She’s so funny and sweet; I think I laughed more than I have in the past few weeks. Conversations ranged from Jeremy Kyle to the hell of A-Levels, from serious to funny topics and I loved it. I didn’t have to try and find topics to talk about; sitting across from her at a table was so freeing because I wasn’t pretending, hiding or faking anything.
I hate saying goodbye. It’s especially difficult when it’s someone you respect so much but luckily, I didn’t cry. She isn’t worlds away; next year when she goes to university, I’m sure we’ll be able to meet more which makes me smile when I think of it.
All in all, Saturday was wonderful and writing about it brings all the memories back. From wandering around a street and listening to buskers to laughing over the stupid pose that Jeremy Kyle adopts, I felt like me. Plain and simple with a passion for English but also someone who is undoubtedly a blogger and a writer. I never want to limit my options and that’s why I do what I do: that’s why I want to visit so many universities and meet so many people.
It’s beautiful to feel like that. Have you felt so very like yourself recently?
From Elm 🙂