Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be – UoW Graduation 2018

Goals are a funny thing. Sometimes you set goals because you know you should, sometimes you set goals because it would be fun to try, and sometimes you set goals you’re not all that sure about.

Graduating didn’t really feel like a goal as I went into my first year of a BA in creative writing at the University of Winchester. It was too far away, not really relevant yet, the focus was on getting through day to day. When first-year came around, there were too many forms to fill out, too many notebooks to organise, too many hot chocolates to drink and assignments to write, to even think about the finish line; the handshake at the end of three years. September 12th 2015 saw too many nooks and crannies in the library, too many secret passageways in the main building, too many streets I had yet to wander down, to even have space for the hats and the gowns we would all don to celebrate these achievements of ours.
Then days became weeks, and semesters came and went.
I started to know Winchester as my city. Walking around its streets felt right, and just like that, with the challenges and the experiences uni life brought with it, graduating started to feel like a goal; one I knew I’d work hard to reach.

On Friday the 19th of October 2018, Winchester Cathedral was filled with the sound of high heels clacking against old stone floors, suit sleeves crinkled by nervous palms and grad gowns that kept falling down jittery shoulders. On Friday 19th of October, I graduated. The cathedral was bursting with excited graduands and uni staff in fancy clothing, with music, speeches and flowers, everything to celebrate three years of hard work. It was wonderful. I reached my goal, I finished my BA.

I have been trying to sit down and properly put into words what I’ve been feeling since then, but I’m struggling with finding the right ones (hence, one of the reasons why this blog has been very quiet for a while).
So for now, I figured I’d show you some pictures – just of us throwing our hats in the air and all in all looking rather fancy in our (too large) gowns. The words need a little more time, the enormity of the fact that my time at uni in Winchester has now officially come to an end hasn’t really hit me yet.
img_7145img_7153img_7135img_7138img_7101img_7096

What a day and what a ceremony.
Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be. We are all just getting started.

Hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Advertisements

Journal #9

I’ve always been a big fan of planning. I get my bus tickets in advance and show up at the airport three hours early. Making sure you’ve planned your journey well ensures that you won’t get stuck on any small, nameless bus stations, and it helps you be prepared for whatever you’ll encounter on the way. Plans also provide you with a great opportunity and a reason to be excited! Looking forward to something is half the fun of it, and intricate planning means you can prolong the joy for however long it takes you to plan.

Before I started uni in Winchester I wanted to be at the metaphorical airport which was my higher education, early. I started planning my degree abroad two years prior to my first year, and spent all of August 2013 to September 2015 looking up Winchester online and in travel books. I read about the uni and the course and my future lecturers, and I got books I knew people had used on the course in earlier years. I also got in contact with a couple of current students at the uni, who were oh so kind and guided me through my chaotic worries and confused thoughts. They answered all my questions, anything from ATMs to walking distance-grocery stores. All information I could gather was neatly penned into a small blue notebook with pink sprayed edges; my “Winchester Departure Bible”.

Come September 2015, I was prepared for departure. I had written packing lists for months, I knew exactly what flat I was moving into and who were moving in with me, I had prepaid tickets for multiple events all throughout freshers week. The airport found me early, a little scared, a little stressed, but mostly so excited and very well-prepared. At least, as prepared as you can be to move to a different country.

Fast forward to 26th of July 2018. I survived the Winchester adventure, and now I’ve got a Creative Writing BA(Hons) in my pocket. Winchester was scary, challenging, wonderful and confusing, and an experience I’ll take with me forever. In 17 days, however, I’ll be in a new city, in a temporary flat, nervous and jittery for my first day of a new BA. A new three years of studies, new people, a new uni. And I’m so excited. I applied for this BA in February, but after a lot of thinking, decided to not go for it if I got accepted. Instead I made plans for temporary solutions, job applications, volunteer work, making money, saving money. However, when the results came through I couldn’t get the feeling of needing to at least give it a try out of my head.

This might be my opportunity to rid myself of this extreme planner inside of me; maybe this is the time I learn that every change that happens in my life can’t be planned three years in advance, that I can show up at the airport with only two hours to spare. And if I can’t get rid of the planner, maybe I can make her take a little break for time to time. I’m starting a BA called Translation and Intercultural Comunications and a lot of the modules are subjects I’ve never tried my hands on before; I’m going in more or less blind. I feel unprepared, but so ready. I’ll get lost on the first day, I might get the wrong books or hold the map the wrong way around. But there’s nothing I can do that can’t be fixed, I’ve just got to jump in the deep end and see what happens this time. I’m nervous, but it’s a good nervous that’ll lead to loads of change, growth and personal development. Hopefully.

17 days until there’s new ground under my feet.

Bring on three new years. Bring on not being as prepared as I’m used to. Bring on a new adventure. I think I might be ready.

-Andrea

The Winchester Bucket List

Are you going to uni next year, and wondering how life will be as a student? Are you worried about working part time alongside your studies? Even better, are you going to uni in Winchester, UK, and are curious about new places to go, small nooks to discover and explore? For questions like these, the University of Winchester has created a student life magazine that focuses on simply living life as a student, no matter what course or degree you’re on.

Remember I told you about this article I was writing a while ago? The magazine it’s in has been available at the uni for a couple of months, and it’s been handed out to students at the open days for a while, but now I’ve finally got my hands on a copy of my own, and can show you guys!

My article is called “The Winchester Bucket List”, is featured on the front page, and I’m listed on the contents page as a “student contributor”, which I’m really happy and a little bit proud about!
Talking about the article; this one was a lot of fun to write for a lot of reasons:
Firstly, I was contacted and asked to write something for this! After emailing back and forth with the management and content team, we figured out that a “tour” of Winchester would be a fun thing to put in there.
Secondly, I got to pick out my favourite places in Winchester and write about them, and now I’ve basically got the perfect memento of the town I’ve loved living and studying in.
Thirdly, for the first time ever I did both the article and the pictures! The photos in this piece are all by me (except for the St Catherine’s one), and taking “proper” pictures that would look good in an article like this was an interesting challenge I’d never taken on before.

I sent this piece off with pride when I was done with it. Then I was told that it would be given three full pages, something I was not expecting but really, really appreciated! And, drumroll please, here is the finished piece:

Look how cool it looks!! I had no idea how the design would look, but I’m really proud of how it turned out. The whole magazine is available for free at the University of Winchester, and it’s filled with tips and tricks on how to survive life as a student, created and written by current students and recent graduates.

Question of the day: am I the only one who finds it really difficult to take pictures of grassy hills (i.e St Catherine’s hill)? Everything just turned out very green for me… Also, does anyone know how to put separate pictures together into a pdf file? Help and suggestions are very welcome!

Hope you have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

“Are we all Creative Writers?” or The first time I ever tried my hands on teaching

There is an age-old saying that goes “those who can’t, teach”. However, whenever my mum (brilliant nurse-gone-teacher) encounters this saying she’ll just say “you’ve got to know something really well to be able to teach it”. I like that better.

The University of Winchester hosts these Taster Session Days, as part of an initiative called Widening Participation. The goal is to make attending university feel more accessible for currently under-represented student groups and to break down barriers future students might have about going into Higher education. On these days, the uni is open for Year 8 pupils from schools in the wider area, and they all get a taste of life at the uni, with campus tours and taster sessions where they get to try out different courses.

I’ve been lucky enough to be part of two of three days of Creative Writing sessions, and this has been both such a challenge and so much fun. Years ago I lead two children’s theatre courses and I’ve done five years of volunteering with leading youth groups, but I’ve never actually taught something like Creative Writing, and it feels new and exciting to be in a position where you can call yourself a “tutor”.

img_1427
-Calm before the storm; waiting for the students to appear. Beth (in the picture) also held a really great session about modernist poetry!

I had so much fun, though! My session was called “Are You Already a Creative Writer?” and I wanted to challenge the Year 8s (12/13-year olds) to think about all the different kinds of writing they’re doing in their everyday lives. A lot of the students participating thought about Creative Writing as something fancy and difficult to do, but I wanted them to think of themselves as writers because, in a way, we all already are. We also talked a lot about how you might benefit from a university degree, and they challenged me back, with asking about why they should get a Creative Writing degree, if they were already creative writers?*

What made the session interesting from the start, was that the students in the groups all had very different experiences with writing. Some of them had already written lots of stories (one girl even showed me a digital copy of her 60k first draft of a novel!), and some of them didn’t think they could write at all. Some of them didn’t like it and some didn’t even want to try. To get them started, though, I had them all choose a picture of a person. I found the pictures on the Humans of New York website, and made sure to tell the kids where they were from, and that they were already telling a story. “Now, however,” I said, “we’re going to give them new stories.”

 

 

img_1423
-To have the students move around a bit, I put all the pictures on the sofas in the back of the classroom, so they had up get up from their seats and pick them up.

 

The first writing exercise I gave them, was to write about the person in the picture like they were introducing them as the main character of a novel. I gave them some questions to prompt their imaginations a bit, and then walked around and chatted with them about their ideas as they were writing. So many good stories came out of this! From intergalactic romances between alien princesses and human London-buskers to Einstein’s time-travelling, evil twin brother. Some of the students worked together and linked their characters, some worked on their own, some didn’t really want to work at all. The great thing, however, was that even the students who didn’t want to take the class seriously ended up doing exactly what I wanted them to do. Being 13 is a weird age, and when someone who doesn’t technically look like an adult (read: me) tells them to do something, it’s quite natural that some of them didn’t want to. Still, this meant that they were trying to create the craziest, furthest-out-there stories, to show me that they didn’t care, but this was how some of the most fun stories came to be, and they were definitely being creative with their pictures and characters.

After they wrote their character introductions, we agreed that novels, short stories and poetry are the things most people think about when they hear creative writing. However, we also talked about all the other types of writing there are, and how we don’t even think about many of them as creative at all. To make the students try this out, I asked them to write about their character in a different way. A blog post written from their point of view, an article about something they’d done, a diary entry, or, if they were particularly brave (which a lot of them were), some song lyrics.

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 16.43.39
-A slide from the PowerPoint talking about different types of creative writing

Then, after two writing exercises, a couple of discussions, lots of talking and an actual workshop, we linked all the things we’d done to what the Creative Writing Course is about. Creative problem solving; I gave them a problem, the picture, and they presented me with a solution, the story. They wrote to prompts and followed guidelines like “professional writers” have to do, and we spent about an hour being creative together.

These days doing teaching has been fun, challenging and very educational, hopefully also for the students, but more than anything, for me. Planning lessons and talking about how to engage a room full of students is something very different from actually doing it, but I’m so glad I challenged myself to do this, to try. To quote Lucie Fink, “let’s make trying the new doing.” And the same can absolutely be said for a lot of the Year 8s that day, they tried something they’d never done before, and their attempts became fantastic stories and interesting characters. A couple of very successful writing sessions, this is definitely something I would love to do again.

-Andrea
*The answer to “why do a degree in Creative Writing”, btw, is that anyone can sit on their own and write, but a CW degree betters your time management skills, your creative thinking and problem solving, gives you the focus and the discipline of a degree but in a creative atmosphere, and also teaches you the professional sides of the business, like writing to word counts and briefs. It’s also a very good time. Challenging, but great.
If you want any more reasons to do a creative writing degree, I’ve actually written a blog post about that too, on the UoW’s student blog! Check it out here if you think a CW degree might be something for you, or if you’re just curious!

 

Journal #5

During my time at uni, I’ve made a lot of blogs for different modules. The point is always to market yourself, to showcase your writing, to find a way to build an online portfolio. Most of them don’t exist anymore, but one I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about (and also the one I liked the most), is called InstantColouring, and it was for a first year “publishing” module. It has long since been abandoned now, but on it I posted a polaroid picture and about 100 words every day of March 2016.

I know I just said it was the blog I liked the most, but it also makes me cringe. I feel like that’s the case with most old writing; you progress, you learn new things, and suddenly what you used to be happy with feels a bit awkwardly worded, a bit unnecessarily flowery. However, this blog did capture snapshots of my everyday, during a month of my first year of uni, and now that that’s coming to an end, I’ve decided to put some of the posts here, in the Journal Series. I won’t edit them or try to make them better, they’ll just be a small reminder (mostly to myself) of how things have or haven’t changed. Sounds like a plan?

 

SPRING-CLEANING
02/29/2016

IMG_3220

“When asked about my favourite season, I wouldn’t say summer, even though I adore the lazy nights of July when the sun never sets and shoes are no longer a necessity. I wouldn’t say autumn either, even though I love the feeling of burying my face in the biggest scarf from this season’s new collection and how the colours change from green to auburn. I also wouldn’t say winter, even though it makes me indescribably happy when snow starts to fall from the clouds like dizzy ballerinas and the Christmas lights are being lit all over the world. No, I will always say spring, because of the soft light that’s reserved for April only, that gently knocks on your window and reminds you that it’s never too late for new beginnings.”

-Andrea

Writer’s Log 3

WRITER’S LOG 3
09/05-2018

Mission Log
A bit of an evening session. The weather here in Winchester (and the rest of England and Europe if we are to believe the weather forecast and my granddad on the phone) is so wonderfully warm and sunny now, which, of course, is nothing to complain about, but it does make it difficult to get any actual work done. The goal for tonight is to reach a 1000 words, though!

img_1303

19:26 I’ve got my water, got my tea, got my extension for this assignment, let’s go!

20:06 I actually really like the world I’ve created for this story! It’s a creative piece exploring how the world could end up looking like beyond 2050, so I’m writing a story set in England in 2087, after a huge economic crash has changed the entire structure of the world as we know it. Companies have pumped resources into very unethical experiments and scientists have eventually managed to change human DNA and make it so our bodies don’t actually produce melatonin anymore. This means that in (this hypothetical and highly fictional) 2087 we’ll have a world where no one is even able to sleep; only be awake, to create and be productive 24/7. Terrifying, but interesting to explore.

20:30 There are now 578 words of a prologue written, kind of like an introduction to how the world came to be the way it is. I do believe that’s a bit much and that I’ll have to cut it, but for now it’s a nice part of the process. It’s always nice, when you’re writing new worlds, to be able to create all aspects of it, to really get into how it’s working. It’s one of my favourite parts at least. Now on to introducing some characters! Stories do kind of need those too, yeah?

20:46 Character update:
Harper – leading lady, interested in dreams (which are only a vague, and slightly unbelievable, myth in this world).
Lydia – leading lady’s best friend, not so great at accepting her friend’s obsession with said dreams that no one’s had for 36 years and no one can really prove are true. We already have conflict.

21:08 A bit stuck on character motivation now, but have actually managed to get the prologue and first “scene” down in about an hour and a half. Heading to the fiction section now, for just a little bit of inspiration and a teeny tiny break.

21:39 Okay, that break turned out a little bit longer than planned, but I started writing an “I’m back!” blog post, and got a bit stuck in it. Lots of pictures of the past couple of weeks to make up for the radio silence. Back to Harper and Lydia now, though!

22:04 Making up fictional technology for an England set 69 years into the future is actually a lot of fun! I’m trying to base it on the technology we have today and then looking at where that technology may go, but also going a bit crazy and maybe stretching a lot of things too far. But I feel like if there is one assignment where you’re allowed to go a bit far, it’s the one called “Life Beyond 2050”.

22:30 Remember the article I talked about a couple of months ago, about my favourite places in Winchester? It’s been published now and they sent me a couple of copies! My mum just called to tell that the magazine was sent to my house back home in Norway, which means that I don’t have an actual copy with me right now, but I’m so excited to read it when I go home later in May! It looks so good, and I can’t wait to show you pictures of it, and tell you about the work I’ve been able to do with some of the people at one of the marketing teams here at the uni. So happy!
(Also, if you want to read some of this other, earlier work mentioned one sentence ago, click here!)

23:12 Okay, I’ve got my prologue, introduction scene and first conflict; time to pack it up for tonight. Tomorrow’s another day, and I’ve set it all aside for more writing! I’m trying out a new strategy a lecturer talked about, that is leaving the story before you feel “done” writing, so you know you’ll exactly where to start again tomorrow.
Very excited about that!

Recap of the session: This is a very world building heavy story

Mistake of the day: I always write “in between” in one word, and today was no exception. I’ve learnt to correct myself now, though, which means that not everyone work shopping my pieces have to, and I call that progress.

Word count of the day: Goal reached, 1166 out of 2500

Writing location: Library, top floor, computer 53, wonderfully quiet in here tonight.

Phone breaks: One quite long FaceTime break and a couple of messages, but no actual “hanging out” on social media or anything. Getting there.

Beverage of choice: Strawberries and Cream by Dorset Tea (I’m going to sneakily link you to their webpage because this tea is seriously my favourite tea ever and I stock up on it every chance I get).

Mood before writing: “I really like my idea and the world I’ve created for this assignment but I’m not entirely sure where I want the plot to go.”
Mood during writing: What kind of technology can I make for this world, and what kind of phones will we have in 2087? Still not entirely sure about the plot further down the line.
Mood after writing: I’m really enjoying this piece! Need to rework the plot and shorten down the prologue a bit, but having a good time with it so far!

Question of the day: How do you think our technology will develop in 2087?

Also, have a picture of some really good crepes we treated ourselves to today (I went a bit overboard with mine, but Bex had some chocolate covered strawberries on the side with hers too, so it’s okay).

Andrea Wold Johansen Crepes

-Andrea

The last couple of weeks…

… in pictures.

 

This blog’s been very quiet for the past few weeks, and I just wanted to let you know why. I made this website back in February, as part of a uni module. The assignment was to create a platform for self promotion on the internet, and while the markers were marking it, I couldn’t update or post anything on here. But it’s all done now, and I got an A on it! 76 points, who’d’ve thought! Very happy and proud of that.

However, the last few months have been great, as you can see from the pictures. Ups and downs, of course, but I’ve made some food, been on some walks, seen lots of lovely flowers (and found lilacs on campus, which are my favourite flowers so that made me very happy) and I also went home for a week, completely unplanned but very much needed. I also got a B on my dissertation(68 points). You know, just throwing that out there, as I’m really proud of that one too.

So it’s been a bit quiet here, but I’m already working on lots of new posts! Stay tuned for more writing, another writer’s log, updates about the general living situation (getting dangerously close to the end of uni now, there are some decisions to be made and some coincidences to hope for) and more pictures.

Thanks for sticking around!

-Andrea