Such was the case in the past few days, when my first assignment of the term – preparing and delivering a short presentation on the principles of an IT-driven business investment within an organisation of our choice – suddenly arrived on my doorstep. I’d always known that this presentation was due to take place at the beginning of March, but somehow with fewer days in February, it came around a lot quicker than expected – if only it were a leap year!
As I wrote last time, my latest project as an amateur Director, The Drowsy Chaperone (with the musical theatre society, Showstoppers), goes on stage next week – so the appearance of an unexpected deadline caused a bit of panic amidst all the preparation being undertaken for that!
Nevertheless, after I’d realised, I was able to spend plenty of time in the ever-stocked and inspirational Hartley Library with my head in a book, making sure it was completed and delivered to the best of my ability, in between all the other intensive rehearsals and production-based activities last week!
Such an anecdote is just one example of the many stories I seem to have accrued during almost four academic years at the University of Southampton, many of which have formed the basis of my posts here on Life at Southampton. I was flattered recently to be invited to be interviewed about my time here (both from an academic and an extra-curricular perspective), just to chat about my experiences at the University.
As someone whose is always quite nervous during interviews, I of course went into it fearing that I would freeze and have nothing particularly interesting to say, and that I’d dry up completely. But once things got going, I found, much to my surprise, the exact opposite: I’d so many different answers, ideas and thoughts which the University has fostered through my course in Software Engineering, and through my time as a member of the Students’ Union, that I had to cut myself off lest we would talk for hours!
From the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to the programming laboratories, there were stories of interesting lectures and assignments (sometimes featuring relatively last-minute submissions) stories of plays and musicals, stories of trips and tours, stories of academic conferences and production activities and projects, and stories of learning experiences (I’ll never forget to boil the potatoes for long enough after my first-year attempt at sausage ‘n mash!).
There were stories yielded by friendship groups which fell completely outside all of the above. There’s nothing quite like just meeting someone new on the bus and getting chatting to them, or even just around the Union. It’s not a rare occurrence; the sense of community across campus makes it far less awkward than you might think! The majority of these seemingly unrelated stories were provided by my first-year flatmates, whom later went on to become my housemates for three years. We didn’t do much together in terms of shared academic courses or societies, but there are multitudes of memories, quotations and photographs which I don’t think I’ll ever forget!
My first year flatmates, and second and third year housemates, and I at last year’s astonishing Grad Ball event – it’s strange to not see them as often now, but we’re still in touch!
Having this myriad of experiences, anecdotes and even jokes to fall back on has already proven useful in terms of my job application efforts. Typical application and interview questions such as “Describe a time when…” and “What experience do you have in…” seem far easier to answer, even on the spot, when you’ve a number of scenarios in your head which you can apply to different situations and transferable skills.
In many ways, one of the best things I’ve found to do is to read this blog (and my 90 previous posts on it!) just to give myself a quick reminder of how much has actually gone on during my time here, and how much I’ll miss the University when it’s all over!
The stories continue to aggregate, with The Drowsy Chaperone now very much on the horizon and the associated challenges of directing a large-cast and large-scale musical fully in the forefront of my mind! It’s been a pleasure so far, and has provided plenty of new anecdotes (including ones regarding the difficulties of sourcing a revolving stage for the first time in the society’s history!). It looks like it will be a fantastic and hilarious spectacle of a show.
If you have any love of musicals at all – or even if you don’t, as it’s a parody of their tropes! – then Drowsy is the show for you, and we’d love to see you there! It promises to be a side-splitting feast of musical cheese, featuring a revolving stage, blindfolded dancing on roller-skates and even an aeroplane landing on stage, along with an incredibly hard-working cast, crew and production team to whom I couldn’t be more grateful.
So come along and catch the show! Who knows? It may even provide you with another story of your own!
The Drowsy Chaperone takes place in the Annex Theatre (Building 2a on Highfield Campus, by the Interchange) from Wednesday 11th - Saturday 14th March at 7.30pm every evening - we’d love to see you there!