Saturday, 29 April 2017

My first year at Falmouth University | LittleEllieMae

I moved into Glasney Student Village at Falmouth University on Saturday 10th September last year. Eight(ish) months later, yesterday marked the end of my first year at university. Its been a roller coaster of a ride and I honestly cannot get over how quickly its gone- easily the fastest year of my life so far! Today I'm taking the time to reflect on my first year as I love to nostalgically look back on these posts and I hope somebody may find it interesting too. 

I remember being filled with so much apprehension as well as excitement before coming to university. Its a massive deal- moving away from home and leaving all your friends and family for a brand new environment is completely daunting. Luckily I'm not too far away from home, a 1.5 hour drive or 2 hour train journey through Cornwall, back to Devon is relatively easy so I didn't feel like I couldn't pop back home when I needed to. 

Cornwall has always felt homely to me as I spent a lot of my childhood over the Tamar river at Cawsands, Whitsands and Padstow. Even before moving here, Cornwall had my heart. Though initially I could've never imagined moving here as "there's nothing to do!"-  I've learnt over this past year that Cornwall is a buzzing hub of creativity and culture and there's definitely always something to do or see. On every road-trip or visit to a local beach, my friends and I are utterly amazed and grateful at what a wonderful place we get to live in.

I've spent the majority of my first year settling in to the local environment of Falmouth and Penryn- I wish I had explored more but in hindsight, its been useful to just feel comfortable for now. I'm hoping to spend my summer travelling around Cornwall a bit more to discover some new places for adventures!

I still love my campus as much as I did when I first visited the university on an Open Day whilst I was still a school student. Its relatively small and there's not many people (5000ish students across both campuses) so you will most definitely bump into someone you know every single time you leave the flat (it depends on my mood that day to whether this is a good thing or not!) The buildings are a mixture of old and new and everywhere is surrounded by fields of green- when I walk out of my flat every morning I'm greeted by a field of beautiful horses! I love that its not a city university and we are surrounded my forests, rivers and fields but its so easy to pop into adorable Penryn town or Falmouth when you need to.

In true student style, I have spent much of my first year socialising. I've never particularly been 'the party girl' but I've really enjoyed going out this year. The night life in Falmouth isn't up to the standards of a big city, obviously, and its home to the infamous Club I which has been voted one of the worst clubs in the UK but it has totally become a guilty pleasure of mine: cheesy tunes, cheap drinks and carpeted floors call for a good night out. The Stannary (on-campus bar/club) puts on really fantastic events too which have made the best nights of first year; space party, 90s party, pirate party and so many more. 

Though I find that a good night in with a bottle of prosecco (Lidl's finest) with my flat mates is just as enjoyable. As someone who has always been rubbish with card games, I've been taught the ins and outs of many and have sat through countless games of Monopoly. Nerf gun fights, obstacle courses, balloons everywhere, corridor sleepovers- we've had so many good nights in too.

The prospect of moving into a flat with ten complete strangers is terrifying. I remember the first day we met being pretty awkward as we went through the mundane questions of where you're from, what you're studying etc etc. But that first evening, we sat in the corridor and watched First Dates together and we instantly clicked as a flat. I've been extremely lucky in getting along with all my flat mates as I know some people don't. We're like a little family that cook, party and chill together and its lovely. I love that I can be totally comfortable around them all (they've seen me in my worst states..!) and it was very soon on that I was back waltzing around in my onesie again. 

Though it can be difficult living with other people sometimes when there is no Mum to help clean up. There's constant dishes on the side, the bins always need to be taken out and sometimes there's loud parties when all I want to do is sleep. I remember the first couple weeks being really difficult and I wasn't sure that I could cope with such a different living environment to what I'm used to, but you know what- you just learn to deal with it. You learn to respect each other and act like adults and it honestly becomes so much easier. I've learnt to not be so up-tight and just chill out a bit, which I think is a good thing.

I've had to grow up a lot this year. Although I've always been a very independent person, my Mum had always been there to make me dinner at the end of the day or wash my bed sheets for me. Now I'm a domestic goddess (of sorts). The first term, I lived off a lot of frozen food and Dominoes but I soon got bored of that as I watched my vegan flatmates cook the most amazing dishes at dinner time  (and my student loan quickly couldn't support drunk Dominoes orders every week!). I ditched the frozen food and started to learn some new recipes. Our flat's speciality is homemade pizza and I make a pretty insane vegetable risotto. I really really enjoy cooking now and knowing all the stuff that goes into my meals. I actually eat more vegetables now I'm at uni... weird, right?! I am looking forward to doing some more!

I think its been so good for me to be this independent. I plan to take time out of my week to bleach the bathroom (I know right- a cleaning fairy doesn't actually do it?!) and to vacuum and tidy my room. I actually really enjoy it... except from putting on my bed sheet, damn.

I feel like a full functioning adult now (sort of). Hell yeah!

I study Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management BA(Hons) and am based at AMATA- the beautiful performance centre at the university. As AMATA is home to all the performing arts and cultural production courses, the building is always buzzing with creative things going on. You'll never fail to find a gig or show to go to. It has amazing studios and theatre spaces where we hold AMATA-based performances as well as a public programme that we've had the opportunity to work on. It also has the best cafe on campus (I've been living off their mochas and toasties!) and is home to our Production Space which is my course's little haven. 

My course is amazing. I'm so lucky to love what I'm studying and its the perfect course for what I want to do in my life. We've had modules on topics including management practice, cultural production, professional development and marketing. I've generally really enjoyed all of my modules this year and I've been so interested in the subjects which makes it easier to do lots of assignments! My course is very small, with around 22 students,it makes a lovely environment to work in and participate among. Our head lecturer is possibly the coolest guy I've ever met and he just know how to work with students to keep us engaged and enthusiastic. I look forward to attending his lectures and seminars every week to hear about his new theories and quirky stories of his band on tour. 

I've undertaken some amazing work placements this year and I've become so passionate about gaining experience to help boost me in the industry. I've worked at Masterclass Theatre Royal Haymarket, National Theatre and ATG/ Harold Pinter Theatre. I've had the greatest experiences working in the city and its given me so much drive and determination to keep working hard to achieve my dream.

My course has been a lot more work than I expected, with deadlines after deadlines, but enjoying the topics and being enthusiastic about what you're working on makes the world of difference.

One of the greatest things to come out of this year is obviously my new friends. I've met so many different people with an array of backgrounds and personalities and its been fascinating. I've made such good friends from my flat, my course and just generally out and about. Its completely different dynamics to what I was used to back at home, as you're with these people almost 24/7 so you create a new kind of tight bond. Some of my friends know me better than I know myself already and I feel more comfortable than ever with them. 

I always used to be someone who likes their own company but since being at university when you are surrounded by friends from the moment you have breakfast in the morning to when you say "goodnight!" before bed, you automatically become a 'people person'. I thrive from being around people and having company- I joke that I've become 'needy' since starting university but as someone who never used to let anyone hug her, I now climb into my best friend's bed for cuddles. I think its definitely a good thing for me to become. Yay for socialising! 

One of my biggest worries before starting university was that I'd lose contact with my friends from home. They've been my rock since starting high school so many years ago and I just couldn't imagine losing them because we lazily hadn't stayed in touch, like so many instances. Thankfully this hasn't happened at all. I've been to visit every one of my friends from back home all over the country, though its taken time and money on my part, I am so glad that I did. Its so nice to see their new lives too- its a very exciting chapter of everyone's lives so to include old and new relationships in that is super important. And of course we keep in contact and have a great night out when we are all back in Plymouth!

So my first year at Falmouth University has been pretty damn awesome. Its honestly been the best decision I've made to make the move here and I know that I'm currently experiencing one of the most exciting and iconic chapters of my life. 

I've grown hugely in confidence this year and all of my experiences at university have accounted for this.

Here's to the next two years!

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: All photos by Geoff, check out his photography Instagram page @bpiq_