A Change of Plan

Hello again! It’s midweek, so the good news is there’s only two more days until the weekend… we’re over halfway there. It’s been my plan for a while now (*hem hem* – years) to participate in a year abroad while doing my degree. But, it seems the plan has changed!

I thought, coming to my university, that they offered a full year abroad for my course. It was what I was led to believe, anyway, but the other week I found out the most I could do was a semester abroad. This created a bit of a dilemma for me: it was annoying that the plan I’d had for so long was now no longer viable, but I’d never been certain about only doing a semester.

If I went for it, the option of studying in Canada would still be a possibility, and I guess all that would really change is the amount of time I got to spend there. However, I had quite specific reasons for wanting to spend an entire year of my degree there. A year (effectively 9 months and travel time) would have meant it constituted a smaller part of my degree, as a technical add-on. A year would have meant enough time to settle in and make friends, and to really explore the area of Canada I was in. A year would have been a great amount of time to spend somewhere I’d never been before.

A semester, on the other hand? Considering how I’ve only got another two weeks left of this semester, I just don’t think it’d be worth it. This semester has gone by so fast, I’ve barely even had a chance to explore this city, and I’m still getting to know people. To completely uproot my life for so little time, and only just feel settled in time to pack up and fly home again… it doesn’t seem like the best use of my time. Not to mention the fact that if I do a semester, it would have to add up to the same amount of credits as a semester here as it wouldn’t extend my course.

So, after a few days of umming and ahhing, debating with myself and a conversation with my dad, I came to a decision: not to study abroad. I’m not going to apply for it, strange as it seems to actually say it. It’s not totally surprising, if I’m honest – I’d always said I’d not likely consider a semester, I’d only go for a full-out year. My indecision came from the realisation it was a semester or nothing.

There is a logic behind my decision. If I choose to stay here at Liverpool, I can concentrate on getting the most out of my degree study-wise. I can now look at flat-sharing with some friends of mine – I’ve actually got a viewing tomorrow morning. I can consider working abroad during the summers, or perhaps find some work in London as my home (home home, not uni home) is actually just outside of London.

I still have intentions of travelling, and of spending time in Canada. Just right now, I don’t know when that’s likely to be. And I’m okay with that – plans change all the time, I’ve just got to go with it. I think if I were to do a semester abroad, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I should, but here I can make the most out of my time. It’s one goal that may take a little longer to reach, but in the meantime, I’ll just focus on others!

Here’s to making the most of the next three years!

Katy x

Magic and Perfection: Fantastic Beasts

Obviously the film taking the world by storm at the moment is JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and it’s been out for what, nine days now? Either way, I went to see it on Friday – so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the film and on what the Wizarding World means to me. (In a spoiler-free manner, don’t worry.)

First off: the film. I was so impatient to see Fantastic Beasts. Growing up, four of the eight original Harry Potter films came out just before, after, or on – in the case of Deathly Hallows – my birthday. So, of course, as an extension of the Wizarding World, I felt like I had to uphold a sort of tradition when it came to Fantastic Beasts and watch it as soon as possible as it came out the Friday following my birthday. The week it took me to actually find the time to go to the cinema was near-torturous…

I thought the film itself was wonderful. I didn’t go in thinking it would be the same as the Potter films, because I knew it wasn’t meant to be. What it was, though, was an incredible film in the same magical world, with an enthralling storyline. Eddie Redmayne was the perfect man to play Newt Scamander, which I don’t think anyone who’s seen it could dispute – he had just the right slightly-awkward gait and mannerisms, just the right level of shyness when he spoke. And that mating dance… what a scene that was!

Without giving the exact details, the film did just what Rowling’s books do and led you to pity the misunderstood, rather than fear it, to respect the downtrodden, and to love those who view themselves as outsiders. There were many references the true Harry Potter fans will pick up, even just names in passing. It was extremely well-executed, the script so definitively JK Rowling’s in every way, that it felt like the exact same Wizarding World we all grew up knowing and loving, just this time with a different story to tell.

In terms of what the whole Wizarding World means to me, it’s truly just a part of who I am nowadays – Philosopher’s Stone was published just a few months before I was born and obviously became a global phenomenon in very little time. I was raised a bookworm, and my parents would read the books with me until I was old enough to read them on my own. I was unhappy in school and the books were always (and still are) a place of solace, welcome, and home. The magic within them and the characters who relay some of the utmost human expressions and emotions have always been irresistible to me and to others.

I’ve always been fascinated by people, and the original series was so full of diverse and interesting characters, the world itself so intricately designed that it was a goldmine to be able to explore it and learn about these people who felt so utterly real to me as a child, and continue to do so. The expansion of the world through the Cursed Child (which I desperately want to see in the theatre but haven’t got tickets for – save me!) and this new film series is evermore fascinating. The sheer expanse of Rowling’s imagination is beyond belief, and something the rest of us creatives can surely only ever aspire to have. She captures the worst parts of human nature and the best, the scariest thoughts and the warmest.

It’s been said time and again how special the books are to such a wide range of people, but to none more than those who were only children when the series began, and for whom the books were a source of comfort which matured and grew with them for so many years. And it’s true, they did. And that’s a precious rarity in itself.

So to me, the Wizarding World symbolises a lot. It symbolises the place of escape, intrigue, and magic that I adored so wholeheartedly throughout my childhood. It symbolises the depth of creativity, understanding and mastery of characters and people that I aspire to have and develop. It symbolises the best and the worst of life. It’s just real enough to seem so believable, yet it’s something just out of our reach. And this new Fantastic Beasts era looks promising indeed.

Katy x

Issues of Sobriety

I’ve mentioned before that I can’t (and have no wish to) drink alcohol. My acid reflux conveniently saves me both money and the prospect of hangovers. But being sober and a fresher at university is really a bit difficult at times.

The thing is, most of the difficulty really just comes around in social circumstances. Doing an English and History degree, it can be a relatively lonely subject – lots of reading, lots of independent study and essays. So, obviously, the solution would be to participate in social activities.

Except – clubs aren’t fun when you’re sober.

Pub crawls aren’t fun when you’re sober.

Being up until 5am in sticky rooms with a load of grinding strangers isn’t fun when you’re sober.

And, unfortunately, all of that seems to be an integral part of student culture. It’s a little hard to keep up with all the people who ask you on a night out and you refuse because you know exactly how it’s going to pan out. It makes it a tad difficult to meet other people. Pretty hard to relate to other students when you share none of the same experiences, too.

I find it a little hard to believe others when you admit you can’t drink and they tell you “oh, I don’t drink much either” – and then cue six shots, two pints, a cocktail and a mixer or so.

Personally, my idea of a good evening is maybe a meal out somewhere, a film or a good old chinwag, and to be asleep by eleven. (I’m an early riser.) Call me old-fashioned, I don’t care. I’d so much rather have a conversation with interesting people than to be deafened by lyricless music, trodden on, tottering around in painful heels and wondering when this boring night will end.

Honestly, I’m quite a strong-willed person and I’m not afraid to admit it. I have no problems refusing alcohol or not submitting to peer pressure. But it makes me wonder how many people aren’t that strong-willed and only participate in these strange student rituals because they believe that’s what they ought to be doing, rather than what they want to be doing.

Regardless of all that, it would really make a nice change if more socials were about hanging out and making friends, meeting people and talking, than about purposely going out to get hammered. I’m not suggesting that everything should be completely alcohol-free, but to be able to talk to people with some remaining semblance of self would be good. When you’re the only sober one in a group, you realise how boring drunk people can be.

Katy x