Category Archives: University

Send me on my way.

There are lots of things to consider when writing one’s final editorial.  So, when finally confronted with this inevitability, I looked back to Steve Jobs’ 2005 Commencement speech at Stanford University; the co-founder and CEO of Apple manages to perfect emotion and inspiration and led me to consider how with hindsight, we can connect the dots of our lives to see how the things we originally thought of as setbacks have propelled us to where we are meant to be today.

In first year, my father presented me with an unmissable opportunity. He had fixed a Guardian reporter’s car and as a result, was able to offer me an indispensable email address. I was immediately unsure what to do with it but after days of questioning myself – and severely undermining my confidence – I emailed that reporter and as a result, landed myself a week’s work experience. If I hadn’t conjured up the guts to email the reporter that day, I would not be writing this now and my adoration for journalism would not have been confirmed.

Another setback in confidence in second year saw me cross my name off of the Editorial Assistant interview list for Redbrick, before re-writing, re-crossing and eventually re-writing it again. This hindrance could have led to me not even interviewing for that position, let alone interviewing successfully. My lack of involvement would have disallowed me to progress onto the Deputy Editor role and as a result, it is deniable that I would be so certain of what I want to do with my life after graduation.

Redbrick is a magnificent society and most importantly, student publication. Determined to continually improve and innovate, all of those involved with the paper work daily to provide a platform and opportunity for student voices. I would like to say thank you to all of those who have made my time at Redbrick an incredible and inspiring experience. Exceptional thanks go to the Proof-Readers whose final editorials I have every faith in reading in a few years’ time…

But doing something you love has to be done with people you love and it is now that I should like to especially thank some of the great friends who Redbrick has allowed me to make. Micaela Winter, my co-female ally in the committee, your outstanding generosity has saved my sanity on many a Thursday morning. Likewise, Rosa McMahon, thank you for sharing this experience with me. We were in it together from the start and I’m proud to see how far both of us have come from that first Features meeting back in 2009. And finally, to my Editor Sam, to whom I should thank for tolerating my mood swings, encouraging my creativity and remedying my passion (also known as stress…). You have been so hard working and enlivening this past year, and your enthusiasm and ambition for the paper is true sentiment to its visible excellence. Never afraid to push the boundaries, you have propelled Redbrick to be more professional and sophisticated than it has been before and your abilities in inspiring those around you will allow for the paper to flourish in all of our absences next year. In the words of the Matilda Soundtrack (eh Sam!) I shall say ‘send me on my way…’.

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Student solidarity.

Although last year saw a small eruption in student activism as a result of Cameron’s cuts to Higher Education, withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a stark increase in tuition fees, students of today are typically thought of as apathetic to the student cause. Where our predecessors of the 1960s sparked student activism off with protests surrounding issues from the Vietnam war to Racism and Student Representation to canteen prices, the sit-ins and national student rallies which would attract hundreds of thousands of students then rarely interfere with our student days today.

But are we all just disinterested with a useless cause? Or are we showing activism in another way, a way which keeps up-to-date with our time?

In the past few days alone, it would seem that Birmingham students are coming together in matters close to home. Rumours of a suicide at Selly Oak rail station saw students tweeting condolences and passing the awful news onto peers via twitter on Friday. Although not on par with protests against the Vietnam War, this solidarity at a time of sadness is enlightening for our modern yet lethargic student body. The Selly Oak fire at a local tyre yard yesterday saw hundreds of students take to the streets. Again, no protests here but a clear coming together of hundreds of students with high regard for what was going on in their local community.

These matters are not proving the students of today to be excited about student affairs. A minimal amount of us turned up to the flash mob against raising Tuition Fees and protest against the Browne Review held on campus last year; a minimal amount when accounting for the 28,000 of us registered at this University. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t a clear sense of comradeship here at Birmingham.

Although small in the grand scheme of things, our ability to collect together at events that affect us close to home – like those of the alleged suicide and tyre fire – surely prove that a sense of student solidarity still exists today, away from the visible rallies and sit-ins of the sixties. Even the unspoken recognition of stressed and hard-working students in the library at exam time proves the unique ability for students to share compassion for each other and understand the most important things in our life at the moment, these exams. Although laughable, even the appreciation of the ‘Drinks to Go’ man who has become a Facebook favourite, show mutual understanding between thousands of very different people. When graduating from this University in July, I certainly won’t walk away feeling like I’ve graduated from a dismantled and broken University. Although few, the students who do participate in keeping-up-to-date with affairs that affect students allow for our student community to exist, grow and flourish. You just need to tweet to see it.

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Filed under Birmingham, Life, Social Media, University

All’s Wells that Ends Well…

 

I had to share my excitement at being tweeted by Stanley Wells, the Shakespeare scholar and co-Editor of The Oxford Complete Works of Shakespeare.  Responding to a tweet by Stephen Fry this morning talking about it being Wells’ 81st birthday today, I said ‘@stephenfry happy birthday to @Stanley_Wells indeed – I’m currently reading his complete works for Shakespeare final exam on Friday’ to which the man himself replied ‘good luck’.

I am way too excited about this but a tweet from a man who’s book has helped you through your University degree is pretty exciting.

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What I Wish I’d Known Before Uni: Guardian contribution

Using the powers of social media, Twitter in particular, I managed to blag a contribution into a Guardian article today.  After seeing the journalist tweet that they needed to speak to current students about what they wish they’d known before coming to University, I tweeted back and emailed a small, lighthearted snippet that evening.  It arrived in print in the Education Supplement and online this morning and can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/may/17/university-guide-student-advice?INTCMP=SRCH

What arrives in print and online has, of course, been edited down, so I thought I’d post my original response on my blog.  I’ve received a few comments today from disgruntled Shackelton boys who I lived with in Halls.  I do apologise chaps, in true journalistic style, a few points made may have been slightly exxagerated for effect…

Hindsight, as I tell myself when I’m approaching an essay deadline, is a wonderful thing. If only I’d thought to start this earlier, if only I’d known this before Uni.

But as well as wishing I’d foreseen my 3am coffee and chocolate digestive addiction before coming to University, I also wish I’d known the following:

  • Societies Fairs are there to steal the beginnings of your student loan.  The bombardment of sweets, pens and stickers are just a ploy on behalf of hungry society committees to get you to pay annual membership fees.  To say that joining all of the drama societies in first year – and parting with lots of pennies – is a regret, would be an understatement; if only I had known that only the ‘Drama Kids’ actually got into the plays.
  • I also wish I’d known what a class shock University would be, perhaps just so that I could have prepared more.  Living in the most expensive halls merely for an en-suite bathroom meant that losing my South London (ish) accent would have to happen very quickly.  And as the only one in my flat of eight without a ‘Gap Yah’ behind me and a Private School on my personal statement, perhaps I would have fitted in better in the cheaper halls – the boys were better looking in those anyway…
  • I suppose the biggest advice I wish I’d had before coming to University would be that everything would be alright in the end, and that if it wasn’t alright, then it wasn’t the end.  And I wish that someone had told me it would all go so fast.  And that spending hours making vodka jelly never, ever works.

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Filed under Birmingham, Life, Media, University

#dissiskillingme

Besides the Orange Room, and the old faithful, 1C, the newly renovated I-Lounge may just be the hub of the University of Birmingham’s Main Library. Home to the early-bird students who prefer working in the greenhouse effect to the icy chill of other floors, the I-lounge serves coffee when we need it most and tempts us with muffins when we’re penniless. It is in the I-Lounge where I started to think about my latest blog, whilst on a quick-trip from my desk to fill my water bottle up (who says I ain’t leading the high-life?!)…

Third year has turned us all into crazy people, animals who wander around the library until midnight with tongues hanging out and odd socks on, caffeine-ed up to our eyeballs. And part of the desirable third year package is an agonising hope that someone may be worse off than you. And that maybe, just maybe, you won’t get the lowest mark in the class.

When crossing a few coursemates in my now-fully-H2o’d-state, the immediate reaction was mixed. The still-properly-working-human inside me was pleased to recognise a familiar face, a friend perhaps whom I hadn’t seen for weeks. I wanted to know how they were, how many Easter eggs they got and most importantly when we’re all next going out for that drink. The student in me enquired how their workload was going and whether they had found that elusive article on WebCT that we needed to read for Jim’s class. And the frantic-working-to-the-deadline-freaking-out-dissertation-writer in me buzzed, interrogating them as to how far they’d got with the word count, how many sources they’d referenced and how many more days they were going to need to write. Am I the only one who’s freaking out? Are they ahead of me? Am I behind? They’re struggling? Great, I’m not the only one…

In a time of desperation, we seem to thrive on other’s misfortunes. We all know the burst of excitement (albeit small) when you see all of your coursemates on Facebook the night before the deadline, all ignoring each other in an unspoken recognition of your naughtiness. And the secret smirk you give when you hear of someone who wrote ‘fuck this’ in the middle of an essay as a joke that they no longer found funny once they’d handed the essay in…

The tiara; proof that I was still very much in a delusional Royal Wedding state…

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