Thin Ice Press
Thin Ice Press is, in my humble opinion, the absolute jewel in the English department’s crown… and this has nothing to do with me being President of Print Society, the student body that works in the Press! Far from just a feature that’s rolled out on Open Days, the Press is used in teaching in the department. If you pick the right modules, you’ll have the chance to operate the presses to learn about the history of the book and how it was formed, gaining a greater insight into the ‘real life’, mechanical history of the literature we love so much. Outside of your course (and alongside students from other courses, as we really ought to share with those not doing English), you can get involved in Print Society and learn to print for fun.
Opportunities to go abroad
I worked an Open Day this week (another thing to look forward to – the opportunity to earn some cash!), and was surprised and impressed by how many prospective students were already interested in going abroad. I did my second year at Lund University in Sweden as part of the Erasmus scheme, but going abroad can mean many things. From a whole year away, to a term, to two weeks on a summer school, there are many ways to go as far away from, or (in my case) as close to home as you like, to experience a new culture, explore a new part of the world and learn a new language.
If you want to study abroad then you have to think on your feet. The application process starts in the first term of your first year, so it can be a challenging thing to consider just as you’re settling in. My advice is that if you’re even slightly interested then you should go to the sessions and start the application process. You can always pull out before you go if you change your mind, but I think you should go! People were confused about why an English, English and Related Literature student, would leave England to study; but it so enriched my understanding of our wonderful literature to view it from another country’s perspective, and to challenge myself by being in another country (though Sweden is hardly the Amazon!). The dissertation feels like a breeze after trying to learn another language just to get through my weekly Lidl shop!
A brilliant support network
For all the brilliant times ahead, moving to university is a difficult thing to do – maybe the most difficult thing you’ve done to date. Moving to a new place, surrounded by new people and starting a new degree is a huge adjustment, and there inevitably will be moments when you feel homesick and overwhelmed. However, the department and the university have brilliant support in place to help you weather these storms!
The degree is a big step up from A level, but you will have a personal tutor from day one. They’re there to listen to any concerns you have (personal or professional) and point you in the right direction for further support if you need it. All staff hold office hours where you can take any concerns about your work, or discuss essay ideas. The Royal Literary Fund fellows, based in the department, and the Writing Centre, based in the library, are there to help you with your writing (the key is in the name!), whether you have a vague idea or a full blown essay; and Dr Brockbank holds some brilliant (and often musical) essay and key skills workshops. The English department also has some wonderful admin staff who are always happy to have a chat about anything you might need – they really are the unsung heroes of the department.