BLOGGER OF THE YEAR

The University of Gloucestershire Blogger of the Year Award goes to:

EMI HORNE

She has written a large number of entries covering topics such as, adjusting to life in the UK, employability skills and social life. She has included videos and photos and made the entries relevant and interesting for our prospective students. Well done!

Emi will receive a lovely Ted Baker gift set, an amazon voucher alongside her official certificate.

Thank you to the rest of the bloggers for your entries this year. Your blogs have received approximately 400 views on average per month. We hope that this indicates that prospective students have been interested in finding out about your experiences of studying in the UK!

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Varsity

Sports teams here at the university are very different than back in North America, so when I kept hearing about a big tournament at the end of the year called “varsity” I was completely in the dark. Basically, each team picks their varsity squad who then goes up against our rival university in one final game for each sport. Whoever wins that game gains a point for their own university and whichever school at the end of the week has the most points wins varsity.

Confused? Me too, but as varsity got closer, it made sense to me that this was more like a final tournament to see which school could come out on top. The University of Gloucestershire’s rival school is Worcester, which is about a 40-minute drive from Cheltenham. After joining the volleyball team at the beginning of the year, and in turn getting chosen for the varsity team, I got to be right up in all the action that took place during varsity week. It was amazing to see how the whole university came together to support each other at every single game, and with each win, you could feel the school spirit building. Leading up to varsity I had the chance to chat with some athletes and get their take on what varsity meant to them, and what they were most excited about before the week began.

In the end, the University of Gloucestershire came out on top, beating Worcester University 14-10 and I was so happy I got to be part of such an amazing week! Joining a sports team at the university was one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to England, and varsity was such a great end to our season. #Bleedblue #teamglos

The Races

March 13-17th marks a special couple of days for our town of Cheltenham, because its race week! Before entering the madness yesterday, I really had no idea what to expect, but after placing bets, meeting new people, and cheering on horses with names like “What’s Happening”, which is exactly what I was thinking for the majority of the day, I am so glad I got to experience race week firsthand. I was told this week gets crazy, and I have to admit, walking through town this week I’ve seen a lot more people carrying their shoes than usual, but I had no idea how big of an event this really is!

Before you get through the doors, or even close to the venue, you can tell how race week is able to transform the town. Places that don’t serve breakfast- are serving breakfast, you get asked for directions at least once a day, men are in 4 piece suits, women are wearing bright coloured hats, and everyone is smiling (the percentage of smiles after losing bets is significantly lower though). I decided I was going to place a couple of bets too, just to make the races even more exciting to watch. For a newbie race-goer like myself, I decided to put my money down on the horses that were favourited that day, so even though I wouldn’t really be making a profit, I could at least come away with a win! Though I thought my plan was foolproof, I didn’t take into account horse racing is really all about luck, and I ended up losing each race that I bet on.

Although I didn’t bring home any winnings, I’m taking it home as a victory in my books because of the outfits, the people, and the overall atmosphere. If you get the chance to be in Cheltenham for this week of utter madness, I have nothing but good things to say. The Cheltenham races were an event I’m so glad I didn’t miss, and something I know I’ll never forget!

Emi

 

Live Country Music

Back in Canada my friends and I all listen to country music, but here in England not many people appreciate Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton as much as they should. I was super surprised when I saw one of my favourite Canadian country bands was going to be playing in Birmingham and I knew I had to get at least one of my friends on the country music bandwagon. After our lectures were finished during the day (since I am here for school after all) my friend and I set off to Birmingham to see High Valley at the O2 institute. The band was doing a European tour with stops in London, Amsterdam, and Glasgow as well. At first when I checked the ticket prices I was a bit confused because they were only 11 pounds, but my inner student kicked in and realized that was more money I could save for next weeks grocery shop, since there was no way I was missing this show!

We ended up getting to take pictures with the band in a before show meet and greet, which was basically us standing in a room with 5 other people from North America. It was definitely a different vibe than I was expecting, but after getting photos, autographs, and snapchats I wasn’t complaining. It was cool to see how far everyone had traveled from just to see this show, and it made me realize there are lots of other students out there in the exact same boat as I am. We shared stories about what we were doing in England, how long we were staying for, and how we all managed to see High Valley for less than 20 bucks.

This week marks 6 months that I’ve been living in England and before seeing the concert I was definitely feeling a little bit disconnected from home. Standing in the concert hall belting out the words to the songs I knew all too well though, was the exact reminder that I needed. Yes I am about 4000 miles away from home, but I run into things everyday that bring me right back. So I can tell you that after that weekend I was able to successfully convert my friend Louise into a country fan so now when we both think of home, maybe our idea of it wont feel so different!

My Future Plan

After Christmas break ended and we all came back to uni, it really made me realize that for some of us, myself included, that this was going to be the last semester of university…ever. Our second semester starts at the beginning of February, and we are given a week for our “Future Plan” that offers courses, workshops, and tutorials, to help prepare us for our future, as if we even have a clue! Looking at this a month ago, I would’ve just considered it another week off, but realizing I’m on the home stretch of my university career, it’s something I really wanted to take advantage of.

One of the most memorable events for me this week was with one of the keynote speakers, Bianca Miller-Cole. Not only was she a finalist on BBC’s the Apprentice, but she was also hilarious and extremely relatable. Although I’m not going into a career in business, I knew her message was important for anyone with a passion for success. At the end of her presentation she brought up a quote that really resonated with me. She asked us to always keep in mind that if your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough. As she quoted Richard Branson you could look around the room and see the wheels turning in people’s heads, you could see the scribbling of pens on notebooks, and the furious typing on laptops. I was in a room with about 100 other students, and we were now all questioning if our dreams could be turned into reality. We heard Bianca’s success story, and the steps that took her there, but I think the most important takeaway from her presentation wasn’t the fact she was a really successful entrepreneur, it was that she has stood in our shoes just years ago, yet she was able to turn her vision into something real. Hearing about peoples success is one thing, but seeing it right in front of you is a completely different story.

Walking away from that speech on Tuesday gave me a little bit more confidence that everything I’ve been doing up to this point in my university career has been a significant step towards my end goal. I think it’s important to realize that every small move towards your dream is an important one. Whether it be writing that goal down on a piece of paper, or even just buying a notepad (like Bianca made us all promise to do) it’s comforting to know that even the most successful people around us, were once sitting in a lecture hall wondering the exact same thing.

An unconventional Christmas

Does your family have Christmas traditions? Mine does. Most Christmas eves were spent watching the Polar Express, even though we knew the girl was going to lose her ticket, and the golden bell was going to be the first present given on Christmas day. Well this year, unless we all pointed our iPhones at the TV while simultaneously on FaceTime with each other, we will not be continuing that tradition. When my parents first asked if I was coming home for Christmas I was excited to tell them that I would be spending it with some of my best friends that I’ve made here at the University. I honestly think they were a little bit caught off guard, but when they looked into things a bit more and realized a round trip back home to Canada cost about as much as a 2008 Ford Fiesta, their expressions soon turned from surprised to grateful.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am saving my parents a lot of coin by not deciding to fly home (you’re welcome mom and dad), but spending Christmas in England is so much more than just saving money, it’s about the experience I know I won’t get the chance to have again. My first stop is Cornwall where I’m sure I’ll have enough traditional Cornish pasties to last me the next 3 weeks, and my second stop is Oxford, a place my Grampie actually used to call home. As I’m writing, I’m about 20 minutes away from the beach in St. Ives, Cornwall, and it makes me think that this Christmas may not be that different than at my home back on Vancouver Island. Sure, the faces are different, there’s no snow on the ground, it’s a completely different ocean, and I’m pretty much butting into two different families Christmas traditions, but I couldn’t be happier, and that’s what Christmas is all about!

I like to think that my parents and I love the Polar Express so much because it’s a fun cartoon about Christmas, but once you’ve watched it a good 8 times you start to realize the message. While taking you on a fun adventure, the film makes Christmas about spirit, about family, and about believing in something a little bit more than that new iPad you hope is wrapped somewhere under the tree. The next time someone asks me about my family’s traditions, I won’t forget to include the Christmas of 2016 that I spent in England. Maybe I’ll tell them that our new tradition will be making the most of wherever we are in the world, whoever we’re with.

This year I’ve traded in pumpkin pie for Christmas pudding, and although I had to get used to the acquired taste, it’s something that I know I’ll never forget.

Merry Christmas y’all!

Emi

“You’re American…right?”

I remember setting a goal for myself last year while I was still in Canada: “Travel to a new place while continuing my education.” At that point all my options were still open, but there was one place I was leaning towards, and that was the University of Gloucestershire. At first, moving to England for my final year of university seemed as daunting as getting to Tim Hortons and forgetting my punch card (for those of you that don’t know the iconic Canadian coffee shop, take it from me, you wouldn’t want to forget your Tim’s card) yet I’m the kind of person always up for a challenge, so I decided to apply. Months later when I received my acceptance letter in the mail, I decided to go. September came quickly, and suddenly I was no longer your run of the mill student, I was the international student from Canada who calls a bin “The Garbage Can”.

Now, being in a place where you know absolutely no one could seem a bit scary at first, but it’s one of the most exciting things I could’ve set myself up for. When I arrived in the UK we had an international welcome week where I was able to meet some people like myself, get all my paperwork sorted, and get tours of both the town I was going to be living in, and of course the university. The welcome week gave me the confidence that there are other people out there just as adventurous, spontaneous, and maybe a little bit insane, that would pack up and move continents for a final year of education, as I was.

As an international student blogger of course I am supposed to say that the UK is amazing, things are going well, and school is so easy and fun, but the reality is there are going to be some moments where you wish you could hug your best friend and say “screw the degree we’re going backpacking in Thailand.” Lucky for us though, there are so many resources at the University like the student help-zone, your personal tutor, and your international buddy, that will bring you back down to reality, and maybe help you cite that final source for your paper that got you all worked up in the first place. My point is, not every moment as an international student is going to be easy, but then again when is being a student ever easy? The important thing to remember is, your time studying abroad will be something you remember for the rest of your life. The all-nighters, group projects, essays, work placements, and of course the people you meet along the way, will all be worth it.