For those of you who haven't come across me before, I'm a fresher1 at the University of York in the UK, reading history. I thought some of the hootoo community might be interested to hear what life's like here, whether for nostalgia or any other reason. So read on...
A Fresh Look at York
It's been an interesting week. Over the weekend my brother came to stay and I showed him around York, including the Minster, naturally. I did get a little lost a few times; I've only been here a month myself. We went to see the remains of the bathhouse of the Roman fortress, curiously located in the cellar of a pub. We also looked around the remains of an abbey in the grounds of a museum. We had a cake and a drink at that Yorkshire institution, Betty's teashop, and then we met some of my uni friends and watched the spectacular illuminations of the Minster. This was in honour of Bonfire Night2, and this year was the 400th anniversary. The Minster was lit up by amazing illuminations of many different colours, picking out the intricacies of the carving. It was a stunning sight and was followed by a fireworks display. We had to move fairly quickly (run, in fact) to get back to the museum gardens where we could actually see it. The problem with city centre fireworks displays is that the buildings do tend to get in the way of the view!
The following day we went to Jorvik, which is a very good attraction designed to get you to feel what it was like to live in Viking York. This includes the smells! After that we took a walk around the city walls, which are very well preserved, considering that they are medieval. All in all, my brother's visit made me realise that I hadn't really appreciated York when I first arrived. For six months, every time someone asked me where I was going to university and I told them 'York', they said, 'Oh, York's lovely!'. When I arrived, it wasn't as wonderful as I had been expecting. Last weekend I saw it with fresh eyes, for which I am grateful.
On Tuesday, I went on a Ghost Walk with the History Society. York is supposedly the most haunted city in Britain, and you'd be hard put not to believe it after the stories we were told. I'm not superstitious, but it was interesting all the same. Unfortunately, it had been raining for three hours, so the grand total of History Soc members who made it on the Ghost Walk was ... drum roll, please ... five. Of whom three were committee members! It was fun, but it did mean that I missed fencing, so I'm going to be behind next week. This is not good since the girl I've been paired with to practice has fenced before, and much more recently than I have, so she's already much better than me.
I also got my first essay back yesterday and got feedback from my tutor. I was surprised but very pleased to hear I had got the highest score in the class, 70 out of 100, which is the score you need to get a First!3 Not bad for a first effort! Anyway, I'm going to convert it and submit it to PR. Meanwhile, I've started research for my next essay, about brotherhood between knights.
We've also been making use of the student cinema. This week we watched Mr and Mrs Smith and War of the Worlds. It's important, since despite this being a university campus, some evenings there is nothing happening, and going to the student cinema, while it does cost money, helps us spread out our DVDs, which has been our default entertainment. Tomorrow, I'm going to watch the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra play on campus, for the princely sum of £3. There are advantages to being a student after all...
Houses of Parliament.3The highest class of degree available.