Now I’ve been back home for a week after the end of my second semester at university, it’s high time I took a look back at the term and see how I fared in achieving my goals over the ten weeks. This post will be based on my uni term two: goals and plans post, so if you missed that or just want to refresh your memory it might be worth checking it out first.
Alongside my year-long, lecture-only module that I’m examined on next term, I took two other classes this term: Victorian Literature and Global Literature. I felt as though Global Literature, a Postcolonial module, had a huge amount of potential but I really struggled with it. Firstly I had a few timetabling issues which meant I didn’t have a secure tutor and class until week five – halfway through term – which meant things felt disjointed from the start. But I also found a number the texts quite difficult and hard to access, particularly with such a limited knowledge of the history of the countries in which they were set and few resources to learn more. All of this made me a little more resistant towards the module than I would have liked, especially since it’s a topic I’m really interested in. It was telling, I felt, that both texts I wrote my essays on were at least partly set in the UK and USA.
Vic Lit, on the other hand, was a complete joy, despite its occasionally morbid contents; I loved every single text and had an amazing tutor and group. Particular highlights were reading Oliver Twist, Villette and Silas Marner, and we studied some wonderful poems, too. Although our classes were two hours every Wednesday from nine-am, I looked forward to them every single week; not only did we look at and talk about the texts, but our tutor also showed us paintings, cartoons, folk songs and memorabilia from the time, as well as ensuring to bring in a mid-class feast of biscuits every week!
This term we had three print editions of the paper, and I finally got around to writing a full-length feature for publication which you can read here. Our little team has gelled completely now and we have so much fun putting everything together, despite the stress. I’ve set the goal for our features team to always be completely finished by Tuesday evening to take the pressure off of ourselves and the other sections, and so far that’s worked out pretty well. I become more proud of what we create every edition, and although it can be draining and frustrating, I always look forward to production week.
Off-campus, my group and I managed to sort out a house to live in during our second year. It’s in a lovely, quiet area not too far away from campus or the city, and although it felt very strange to go on viewings and sign contracts I’m really looking forward to having a proper house with a living room and a bath. Those tiny things can make all the difference – not to mention the rent price which, even when you include bills, will be much lower than what I’m currently paying for my room in college.
G also came up to visit twice this term and I’ve written about both of his trips. On his first weekend we took a tour around York’s chocolatey history, walked the walls and visited the railway museum, and, more recently, we trekked over ten miles of Yorkshire countryside. I also took a trip home for Valentine’s Day weekend halfway through term which, at the time, was just what I needed. It’s not difficult at all to come home and I’m contemplating going back twice next term, but we’ll see how busy I am.
I had three non-academic goals for this term:
1. Reach out to people. I’ve gotten a little better at this. It can be so hard, because whilst on the one hand you live so intensely with your housemates and friends at university that it feels like you’ve known them forever, on the other you’re all still pretty new to each other, and it’s difficult to rely on people who are also struggling. But asking for help isn’t just a useful skill – it’s crucial to keep your mental health in check. I was very ill in the middle of term and went over thirty-six hours without speaking to another person, which really took its toll – in the end I swallowed my pride, sent some messages and was overwhelmed with support. So I’ve not fully achieved this goal, as there were times I should have reached out and didn’t, but I’ve definitely made some improvements.
2. Explore the city. Of all the goals I set myself, this is the one I’ve achieved the most. At Christmas Dad gave me a great guide book to York and although I was hesitant to use it at first G and I made a point of following one of the city tours it outlined and it proved so helpful in helping me understand how the city’s streets work. As a result, when Dad came to visit in week 10 and when Mum picked me up at the end of term I was able to guide them both confidently around some of the old backstreets and snickleways. I’m so excited to finally feel more at home in York, and am so proud to call it my city; having got to know it a little better, I have well and truly fallen in love with it.
3. Take more pictures. I’ve done fairly well with this, if my Instagram feed is much to go by. It was noticed by UoYStudent, a guide to the University and City for students, and I now manage the UoYS Instagram which is exciting. Campus is remarkably picturesque at times and there’s always something new to snap in the city, though I’ve discovered just how hard it is to photograph the Minster. However, I don’t have that many pictures of my friends, and I think that’s something I’d really like to work on next term. Hopefully with better weather will come more photo opportunities.
Although term two had some extreme lows, I think on the whole it was better than my first term. I’m feeling much more at home both in the city and in the academic environment of the University, and have lots of social opportunities and support networks that I can continue to make more use of next semester. Uni is strange in that so much happens all the time that it’s almost impossible to ever feel totally settled, but I’m hoping a more relaxed summer term will make for a happier atmosphere all round. For now, though, it’s time to just enjoy the next three weeks of Easter holiday – though following the success of the last one, keep a look out for the ten things I learned in my second term at uni post later this week!
Are you studying at University? How was your Spring semester? Let’s have a conversation – comment below!
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