Friday, 24 October 2014

What lies beyond

I wrote in my last blog post about how quickly time at university shoots by (maybe it’s because I seem to mentally split it into chunks of time spent for rehearsing for shows!), and how, sooner than you’d perhaps think or expect, you’ll find yourself considering what lies beyond it all in terms of a career and… well, the rest of your life! For me, that reality has never hit home harder than during the past couple of weeks, during which I’ve found myself looking into options, attending a careers fair or two, talking to companies, drafting applications and - most terrifying of all - getting to grips with the prospect of the real working world after a fantastic few years down here!

It seems weird to think that I’m now firmly entrenched in my fourth and final year of an MEng Software Engineering programme – meeting the new set of Freshers in the musical theatre society, Showstoppers, has certainly hammered that message home! With work towards modules well underway and the first deliverable document deadlines of my Group Design Project (a group dissertation originating from a challenge within the technical industry) rapidly approaching, I can vividly remember thinking in first year how this time would never come around for me!

Yet with graduate scheme applications now opening for many an organisation, and my last ever winter at the University of Southampton creeping ever nearer (the central heating in our house has been greatly appreciated recently!), it really is time to look beyond my course and on to the future. In that respect, I’ve been trying to adopt as pro-active approach as possible to figuring out my future career path, looking at many a prospectus, graduate scheme and careers fair which fits around my course and the various other activities I’ve undertaken during my time here to give myself the best chance I can.

The first event I attended took place at the Royal Opera House in London last week, entitled TheatreCraft.This quite unique careers fair is a free annual event for everyone up to and including the age of 25, and is tailored to those prospectively looking at a career in the theatrical industry outside of performance (however much I love performing, the competition is fierce to say the least)!

Braving a five o’ clock wake-up call (an hour I definitely can’t remember the last time I encountered!) in order to make the necessary journey, and thus boosted by a strong coffee or two, I went along to try to investigate the possibilities of taking my passion for the Performing Arts beyond the amateur societies I’ve loved being a part of so much in Southampton – a quite intimidating prospect to undertake on your own, but ultimately a wholly worthwhile one!

The event consisted of a grand hall of theatrical-related showcases from employers and prospective routes into the industry, including theatres, drama schools, performance colleges, concert halls, press stands and much more. These were all manned by professionals eager to answer questions and talk about their specialisms. Furthermore, there were free hourly workshops, led by figures within the industry. Figures ranged from directors to producers, marketers and plenty more – I managed to, in quite a star-struck state, meet the Director of one of my favourite shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year! It was with these talks that I filled up almost an entire day, listening attentively to the anecdotal advice of people who’d made a living out of it all and taking notes aplenty along the way! One even took place in the Royal Opera House rehearsal hall – incredible!

It was an inspirational and brilliantly informative day, and left me feeling suitably encouraged that a career in the arts is definitely something I have the option to pursue should I so choose – and in final year, options are what we’re all looking for!

Additionally, this week I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the University’s Information Technology, Science and Engineering Fair 2014 – perhaps a more traditionally associated event with my degree programme, and equally as informative and encouraging! Organised by the University’s Career Destinations team (who are always seeking to give you advice and support in terms of offering placements, advice and CV workshops) the day followed a similar format of showcasing a vast array of organisations and potential employers, and thence allowing you to speak to as many professionals from them as possible, with a particular focus, in my instance, on those offering careers in technology.

I went to the event slightly unsure of whether my background in Computer Science leant itself to much by way of adapting to other specialisms – for example, the financial sector (of which my knowledge is enough to get by – but nowhere near that of my housemate studying Economics, for example!). I was heartened to learn just how much can be picked up on the job or taught via many graduate schemes, and I left feeling inspired to tackle plenty more applications to companies across a range of industries I’d never previously considered – so here’s hoping I hear back soon! Plus, as an added bonus, many companies at the Fair were offering freebies along the way – so I left with a bag chock-full of useful goodies and accessories, alongside leaflets and contact details aplenty. All in all, not a bad afternoon’s work!

So despite my initial trepidation, it’s with great optimism that I look to what lies beyond University and, although I’ve still some way to go yet during this academic year, it’s certainly a weight off my mind to know just how much is on offer after my programme concludes! Fingers crossed for the future, wherever it may be!

Robin





Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dance opportunities and developing new lab skills

Recently, I was asked to work as a dancer for a new disco/funk/soul launch night at a venue in Southampton. One of the people running the event found me through one of the dance societies I’ve been a part of. I was asked if I was interested in being hired as a dancer for the evening, and if I had any friends who would also like to get involved. I ended up gathering together a group of four; myself and another girl along, with two guys from the dance societies, to form a quartet. Our role was basically to help promote the new event, perform a few choreographed routines on the stage throughout the night and dance with the crowd and try to get them to dance more as well. The music played included tracks from artists such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder. To keep in with the theme we were also given some very colorful costumes with distinctive flares which we all found hilarious but actually made the job even more fun! It’s not every day you have an excuse (not that you actually need one) to dress up in disco attire! It was particularly funny to see my friends dressed up, especially because I actually thought the costumes surprisingly suited some of them.



The gang and I before heading off to the event. 


On the topic of dance, squad auditions have been going on and, while it has been very tempting to audition again in my third year, I’ve managed to keep to my word and will be focusing this year towards my degree, especially now that I’m fairly confident a career in research is the path I want to take. I’m really enjoying the research for my third year project and learning new skills in the lab. However dance is still a passion of mine, so I won’t quit dancing altogether!

At the weekend I met up with one of my dance friends who graduated in July before she moves to Singapore in November. Together we went to the local Mayflower Theatre to take a ballet class taught by one of the dancers of the English National Ballet, who were in Southampton performing the ballet 'Coppélia' last week. We were also taught a short variation from the ballet which was a lot of fun, especially since it has been a while since I’ve danced any ballet. It was great to get my body moving like that again - I had forgotten what good exercise ballet is, and how challenging it is to find and work those specific muscles that ballet uses.



The class was taught on the Mayflower Theatre stage, so this photo was taken from the stage looking out into the auditorium (which I find quite cool, since usually it’s the other way round). 


After the class we were also given a little demonstration of some of the costumes they use in the show, how they are made and reused and how much they cost. I had no idea how expensive some of the tutus for the lead roles were, costing up to £1,800 and even more shocked at the cost of the wigs which could cost up to £1,500! I guess they want to be able to give the audience the best possible performance so they pay a lot of attention to quality detail.

As I just mentioned, I’ve really been enjoying working on my third year project. I’ve been doing increasingly more lab work and learning some new laboratory skills including working with liquid nitrogen and dry ice when grinding the leaf samples I collected in Italy, preparing them for RNA extraction. More recently, I’ve been working through the protocol for RNA extraction of poplar leaves.

So far I’ve only executed the protocol using tester leaves, but I will be using my actual samples later this week which is both exciting and a little nerve-wracking because if I make a mistake I won’t be able to fly back to Italy and collect more leaves! Equally, if I manage to do this right I will be one step closer to getting some data which I can then start analysing. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some good results!

Kristin




Friday, 17 October 2014

Getting creative

After nearly four months of summer holidays, it is always surprising how quickly you re-orientate yourself back into university life. The first few weeks of term always seem to be the busiest, as you begin to settle into a rhythm; finding a way to squeeze in everything you want to do within a week.
However this semester has been particularly busy, because in addition to being deep into the syllabuses of my taught modules, my MSc Physics project has begun to demand more of my time. On top of this I have continued my membership with badminton and handball, as well as trying out a couple of new societies too.

The one activity that has captured my interest in particular has been ArtSoc – the University’s art society. I’ve always enjoyed doing creative pursuits and I spend a lot of time sketching when I have free time over the holidays, but I’ve never really found the time whilst at university. Over the summer break I spent many hours working on a drawing of a lobster, inspired by Alice Shirley’s ‘Giant Lobster’ and Salvador Dali’s famous surrealist piece ‘Lobster Telephone’.



The finished piece


Whilst I was on holiday in Bruges over the summer with my girlfriend, we discovered a Dali exhibition at the foot of the famous Belfort. It was a nice surprise to find because I didn’t know about it before I arrived and it was inspiring to see his work his real life. We also visited another gallery whilst we were in Belgium, called the Groeningemuseum, which displayed works from famous Belgian and Flemish artists that were split into distinct artistic movements. The main highlight of the gallery were the works of Jan Van Eyck, a fifteenth century resident of Bruges, which included the stunning ‘Virgin and Child with Canon ver der Paele’.



The Belfort, which housed the Dali exhibition on its ground floor.


The first ArtSoc event was a free taster session, in which members old and new got the chance to meet each other whilst practicing our portrait drawing skills. However, unlike a traditional portrait class, it was held in a speed dating-fashion, which meant we only had five minutes to draw the person we were paired with before everyone moved on to a new partner. I thought this was a really clever way of getting to know a lot of new people and it was great fun too!

This week’s ArtSoc event focussed on life drawing, which is something I’ve always wanted to try, but never had the chance to. The session gave me a chance to improve my ability to draw the human body in different poses and from a wide range of angles. After each pose it was interesting to compare sketches with other people to see their own technique and to observe how the drawings changed as you moved round the circle.

The other new activity that I have been trying out is Ultimate Frisbee, which is a very intense sport, because offense turns into defence in a blink of an eye, requiring you to have full concentration at all times. In our first training session we were taught how to throw the Frisbee backhand (the way people naturally do it) and also in a forehand manner, which was very challenging, but I think I’ve just about mastered it now!

Trying to fit all of these activities in has meant that the past three weeks have flown by, but nevertheless I have really enjoyed re-immersing myself into University life and can’t wait to see what the rest of semester one brings!

James








Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Breaking into industry

One of the inescapable facts of being a fourth year is that many of the opportunities, events and experiences I’m encountering in day-to-day life are ultimately (and quite sadly!), the final of their kind for me in Southampton – something I’m still trying to get my head around, really! It’s weird to think that these are the final Freshers’ events I’ll attend; the final time I’ll go to a Bunfight; the final time I’m preparing a costume for Halloween socials, and so on. It seems like a lifestyle that I could honestly keep up forever and never get bored! But the final year it is, and as such, I’m more determined than ever to make the opportunities which present themselves count as much as I can. For example, I’m already one down on that bucket list I presented a few weeks back.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to make my live Surge Radio (the Students’ Union radio station) co-hosting debut with my brilliant (and thankfully well musically learned – I have a pretty dodgy taste in music!) friend Caitlin. Her wit and naturally amiable character seemed to complement my cheesy jokes quite well for the hour, as we winged our way through the first edition of “The Performing Arts Show”. This slot is dedicated to broadcasting all the latest news from across the Union’s Performing Arts departments! Next time we’re planning to actually prepare content in advance to give the whole show slightly more structure; we improvised games this time, including a Shakespearean quotation contest and an American “spelling bee” style quiz! However, for a first shot, we think we did pretty well – and I had a fantastic time in the process, so I can’t wait for the next show!

I was also lucky enough to this week be cast in another production (after a week entirely out of them!), following a couple of rounds of intensive auditions over the weekend which really showcased the levels of talent that exist within the Performing Arts. It was a fairly intimidating prospect going into the audition room knowing that five or six other extremely talented individuals were going after the same roles as you, but I’m delighted to say that (somehow!) I managed to come away with the role of Prince Escalus in the Theatre Group’s production of the Shakespearean classic “Romeo & Juliet”, to take place on the professional Nuffield Theatre stage in February 2015. This is hopefully another final opportunity to make the most of, as my investment in the Performing Arts in Southampton slowly winds its way to an end!

The main thing at the centre of my thoughts this week has been getting off to a good start as I enter the fourth year of my MEng Software Engineering course. Most importantly of all to this, all hands have been to the pump to kick start the Group Design Project we are to undertake, which in turn makes up a significant portion of our assessment throughout the entire year – so no pressure, then! The project (or “GDP” as it’s affectionately known by all of us who have to type it each time!) is in itself yet another fantastic opportunity for us to gain experience in the field of project development and in turn boost our employability, which is obviously something at the forefront of every final year student’s mind right now!

This is because not only does the project we are assigned stem from an industrial specification (and hence is likely to be applied within a professional context), but it also tests the depth of our personal, managerial and skill-based development as both engineers and computer scientists since our very first year. We are expected to employ skills and knowledge we have acquired over the course of our degree programmes across the entirety of the project’s lifespan to accurately simulate a development process we might undergo in a job. This gives us plenty of practice in this kind of context before we move into the wide world next year and potentially do it for real – eek!

For example, we will be formulating specifications, formalising designs and carrying out evaluative testing (to make sure it works!). These are skills which we have been given the opportunity to hone across a multitude of various design projects over the years, and now are left to independently apply in this particularly challenging situation. Now that we’ve had plenty of practice in an academic environment, it really feels like an opportunity for us to take a (tentative – it’s still quite difficult to even know where to begin, after all!) first step into breaking into the technology industry!

With regards to my group’s project, ours stems from the mobile application of Digital Behaviour Interventions (for example, phone messages or alerts) which psychologists can design to help encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles or, for example, to undertake anti-smoking or fitness programmes. We’re also working closely with an on-campus client to extend an intervention’s functionality into allowing people to test the potency of any personal cochlear implant (devices which improve hearing) they might possess through their mobile phones, potentially saving them a lot of money in reducing the need to travel to their nearest implant centre.

We’re hugely happy as a group with the specification we’ve been allocated. Not only has it already stimulated a number of fruitful discussions about how we’re going to go about supporting all the relevant factors and requirements of the project, and incorporate such hearing tests sufficiently accurately, but it also has the potential to have a strongly positive effect on real people’s health, routines and lives if it works well. This is a wonderfully inspirational goal in itself and hence something additional to strive after - so here’s hoping (just as an aside: it will be rigorously tested before deployment, of course)!

Looking forwards, it’s weird to think the clock is counting down on my time in Southampton, and quicker than I might like, but given all of the events going on at the University at the moment, it’s looking like it’s going to be one heck of an academic year to bow out on – fingers crossed I can make the most of it!

Robin

Monday, 13 October 2014

Self-defence, forest walks, talks and films

Since my last post, I’ve been trying out some more groups and societies. Last week I attended a couple more Martial Arts taster sessions including Chinese Kickboxing and an evening Self-defence class. I am very tempted to join the Chinese Kickboxing - however it clashes with one of the Street Dance classes I also want to attend on a Wednesday. The session was a lot of fun so it is definitely something I want to try again in the future. The self-defence class was great and is actually free every week! The classes are in the evenings and so don’t clash with anything else I’m doing. The instructor is really enthusiastic and dedicated and keeps the class fun. Knowing a few tricks to protect yourself is a really good thing to have up your sleeve and because the classes are free I don’t see any reason not to attend.

At the weekend I went to the Hillwalking Society’s first day-walk of the semester. This was the first time I had been on one of their walks and in spite of the rain I really enjoyed the walk in the fresh air and being out in nature! This walk was along a route their committee had planned out. The walk I went on was in the New Forest, which is beautiful and local (and very easy to get to from here!) but they also have walks planned for the Isle of Wight and an away trip to Snowdonia amongst others.




 Our walk in the New Forest, a local beauty spot.
 

During the week, the Green Action team had our first event. This began with a quick introduction to what we do as a society, who the committee are and what our roles are. Then we had the pleasure of listening to a talk from a guest speaker who we had organized to come and talk about the controversial TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) trade deal. After the talk, people were free to ask questions and we had a really interesting discussion. The talk was very successful and it’s great that we were able to raise more awareness about the potential consequences of TTIP. We may even organise a follow up event, since a number of members were quite passionate about the covert trade deal.

Last weekend I also spent full day in the library doing research for my third year project. Afterwards, my friend and I rewarded ourselves by watching a movie at Union Films. Union Films is the University’s student-run cinema. I think this was the first time in over a year that I took the time to go and watch a film there, and it turned out to be a great way to end a full day in the library! This weekend my friend and I plan on dedicating another full day to working on our projects in the library and then watching another film.




Getting ready to enjoy a film at Union Films


We were quite keen last weekend and were almost the first ones to arrive. Since it’s cheaper to watch movies at Union Films than in larger cinemas, my friend and I hope to be able to watch a few more movies throughout the term and make the most of having a cinema in our Students Union while we’re still studying at Southampton. It’s also good motivation to keep working; knowing you’ll be able to relax and enjoy a film in the evening.



 The Union Films entrance, and SUSU's new Diner!


The entrance to the cinema is on the far left, but this picture also shows the Student Unions’ new retro Hollywood Diner at Bar Three, which I think looks really cool! I have yet to try any of the food but plan to soon.

Kristin

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Creative cooking skills

At the end of my last post I briefly mentioned that my house mates and I had started a ‘Come Dine with Me’-style cooking competition during Freshers’ Week. We came up with the idea before we broke up for summer and it was evident once we had all returned to Southampton that we were taking this competition pretty seriously; we had all researched recipes and a couple of us had even done a practice run!

It was my turn to cook first, which was good because it meant that once my night was over I was free to enjoy the rest of the meals. In the week beforehand I had finalised my menu choice, opting to go for a Spanish theme. This consisted of a selection of tapas for starters, seafood and chorizo paella for my main course, all finished off with churros and an accompanying chocolate sauce. I had never made any of those dishes before, but I really enjoy cooking, so I was confident I could pull most of it off. I began preparing for my meal several hours before dinner was due to be served and I was glad I did, because I had underestimated the amount of work required!

My tapas selection included a tortilla Española (a Spanish omelette), patatas bravas (a traditional Spanish potato dish) and chorizo on toast. Preparing three things at once turned into a juggling act and I felt they weren’t quite as good as I wanted them to be. However, I felt my next two courses went perfectly and I learned two new skills whilst making the churros; piping and deep frying!

Over the next few nights it was turn of my housemates Marcus, Andy and Ian to cook. Marcus, who is used to cooking for the house, made a salmon and brie starter, a fried rice main (the same dish he made us for Chinese New Year this year) and the most moreish banoffee pie I’ve ever tasted. Next up was Andy, who prepared an adventurous North African themed menu, with tabbouleh salad, a chicken tagine served with couscous and cinnamon honey oranges. Finally, it was the turn of Ian, who served us Parma ham breadsticks, a beef stew and some incredible chocolate brownies.



Marcus’ delicious banoffee pie 


After each night we rated the food out of ten and put our scores into sealed envelopes, which we would then open after the final evening of food. The standard of cooking was very impressive and there were only two points separating first from last - and I am pleased to announce that I came out on top!



A chocolate marble cake we baked as a house to get ourselves in the mood for our competition. 


My first meal I made as a university student was beans on toast made in a toastie-maker (Top tip: never do this – the mess is unbelievable!). Since then I have made a conceited effort to improve my cookery skills and now I thoroughly enjoy doing so. I highly recommend learning how to cook whilst at university, because not only is it impressive and great fun (especially with friends), you can finally make use of the SUSU Market on campus every Monday, which always looks so tempting, selling everything you could ever need!

James

Monday, 6 October 2014

A warm welcome

With the final Freshers’ Week of my University career (well, most likely, anyhow!) drawing to a close, and with campus and the Union seemingly becoming slightly emptier every day as everyone collectively takes stock of the sheer number of societies they’ve joined, lectures they need to go to, and events they’ve attended recently, I’m personally writing this post from the comfort of bed – happy, but fairly exhausted, and an unfortunate casualty of the dreaded freshers’ flu!

Judging from previous years, catching this illness is something of an inevitability around this time of year – particularly when all of your housemates have it as well (we’re all looking after each other with tea and biscuits)! In that sense, just because it seems to largely stem from sheer exertion on everyone’s part, I always think it’s a sign of a freshers’ fortnight done well. It’s proof that you’ve packed loads in and made the most of the incredible opportunities brought by arrival of new students for a new academic year – and, with a few days’ rest, we’ll all be back to our feet in no time!

This time round, I really have tried to make the most of the occasion, cramming pretty much everything I could into the timeframe – while adjusting to some interesting variations in the body clock as a result! The vast majority of this activity has stemmed from the Student Leader positions I was fortunate enough to be elected into at the end of last year, as President of Showstoppers (the musical theatre society) and the Web Officer of Performing Arts Committee, so over the past fortnight or so there’s been a huge amount of organization to get done behind the scenes to ensure everything runs as smoothly and slickly as usual!

Just being on the other side of the table has been a revelatory experience for me, as I’ve seen now first-hand just how much effort, dedication and time goes into putting these awesome events on for freshers to make sure they receive a customary warm welcome. For example, this year I was one of many volunteers up at an extremely early (well, in the student world at least!) hour to help set up the Performing Arts section of the Bunfight, which, as James discussed the other day, represents the annual gathering of all societies to allow them to showcase themselves to potential new members and get people along to taster sessions and welcome meetings.

This year, Performing Arts were in the vast and brilliantly atmospheric space of The Cube, so as Web Officer, an early morning was spent constructing showcase photo slideshows to be projected on the wall, shifting tables for societies to place their material on, and ultimately trying to make sure everyone knew where they were going and when. With an estimated through-the-door flow of nearly 6,000 people on the day, and the whole Union bouncing with energy (although coffee machines may have helped in some cases!), it truly was a magnificent occasion on an unprecedented scale – so a massive congratulations is in order to everyone working behind the scenes at the Students’ Union and University to make it happen!



The Performing Arts invaded the Cube and put on quite a spectacle!

Of course, Showstoppers were also there on the day to encourage people to come along (and if you’ve ever been tempted at all by musical theatre, please do give it a go – it really has made my University experience!), so we also spent plenty of time manning our display, signing people up to our mailing list, talking to many a friendly fresher, and encouraging people to come along to our first meeting.

At one point in the afternoon, we also performed a thirty minute set on the central stage featuring some classic musical numbers from the likes of Les Miserables, Wicked and Hairspray, which seemed to grab some people’s attention and was great fun to boot (although we hadn’t had time to choreograph any movement at all, so Dad-dancing was the order of the day!)! It was an utterly exhausting experience at the Bunfight, but also incredibly enjoyable and inspiring to get to talk to so many enthusiastic and friendly faces eager to embrace the opportunities at university – so fingers crossed we’ll see many of them at our auditions next week (and you too)! Thank you so much again to all of both Performing Arts and Showstoppers committees for making it happen!



The Showstoppers committee having one final planning meeting (and rehearsal) for the big day!



An exhausting, but extremely inspiring, day, representing Showstoppers at the Bunfight was fantastic!

Of course, there was to be no rest for the wicked and, only ten hours after arriving at the Bunfight in the morning, some of us from the Union’s Theatre Group were on the road again, heading to the University’s Winchester School of Art to perform a free preview of our show, a production of John Kolvenbach’s romantic comedy Love Song, as part of the welcome events there. Having never been before, it was a fairly surreal experience arriving quite shattered in an entirely new place, setting up in a café with a freshly-rehearsed show, and performing it to an audience we’d never met before! But thankfully, despite our initial nerves (personally I was terrified backstage beforehand!), it all seemed to go down well and we received a great reception, so hopefully it proved a good advertisement for the Performing Arts as a whole (again, if you’re from WSA, let us know if you’d like to get involved - as we’d love to see you do so)!



Performing a show for the first time in an entirely new space was an intimidating prospect, but also a lot of fun!

Having slept for pretty much the entirety of the next day (playing catch-up!), it was straight back into rehearsals for the main showings of Love Song, which went on to take place at the Annex Theatre at the start of the next week, and which were gratefully witnessed by some large audiences including reviewers from the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) and local student media. It was definitely the most testing play I’ve been a part of so far, not only in terms of the difficulty of the text but also with regards to getting used to the concept of acting in a “studio space” (where the audience are on stage with you – very, very visible!), but the reception the production received as a whole was phenomenal, with some high-scoring reviews (a 5-star and a 4.5-star!) and very humbling feedback from many people afterwards (so thanks if you saw it!). It was also the first time I’d ever been able to feel happy on stage when I glimpsed people in the audience crying at its ending – we thought that meant we’d done our job!

But the best thing about Love Song was the people. A ridiculously talented (scarily so when you’re trying to match them!), brilliantly amiable and downright hilarious fellow cast and production team, they made the most intensive rehearsal experience I’ve ever been through one of the most natural, enjoyable and productive – it really has been a blast, and many a cheesy in-joke has been formed at rehearsals!

Now in the weird transitive state where, for the first time in just under two and a half years, I’ve no theatrical projects on the horizon (although given the propensity for opportunities to pop up around here, I’m sure that won’t be the case for long!), I’ve realised just how much I’m going to miss the production, and can’t thank them enough for letting me be part of what felt like, on-stage at least, a truly special show. Here’s hoping we find ourselves working together again soon!



Love Song was one of the highest quality shows I’ve been a part of – and was a heck of a lot of fun to boot!



The Love Song cast – one of the best groups of people I’ve ever met, thanks for having me!


Back on the organizational front, things came full circle the other night with the Showstoppers ‘welcome meeting’, an event where we handed out plenty of sweets, chances to play games and, most importantly of all, information on how to get involved with our upcoming events. Personally I found having to lead one of these events for the first time quite daunting in truth, particularly as we, as a committee, are the first people from the society that freshers are likely to meet, but everyone seemed very friendly and receptive, and on the whole extremely enthusiastic to get involved with everything, so fingers crossed we’ll see them again very soon – particularly if we continue to bring along free food, I guess!

Finally, and by no means least of all (honest, Mum!), my fourth academic year has kicked off in style, which means my integrated Software Engineering masters year is now in full swing! I’ve been tasked with a large-scale (and I mean large!) group design project (which I’ll write about more next time!) which stems directly from a possible implementation in the psychology industry. The brief has already proven fascinating to explore and, getting to know my new group a bit better, it’s already been a fantastic experience which I’m fully looking forward to embracing over the coming months – although I may need a reminder of this when the work truly begins to pile on around Christmas-time!

So, as I write from the comforts of my bed, thoroughly exhausted but incredibly fulfilled, I can reflect on an amazing final freshers’ fortnight, which has not only seen a whirlwind of activities and hectic schedules, but also some truly memorable experiences to boot. Freshers 2014, I hope we’ve all managed to lend you a warm welcome to Southampton – and if like me you’ve been feeling flu-ridden at any point, get better soon, so you can enjoy your new lifestyle to the maximum! Here’s to a great year ahead!

Robin