At Terms End

First year university student of History.

First term done.

Most of the lessons I was warned I’d learn came from the environment outside of the classroom. Seminars came easy and lectures were dull. Big news. When it came to adjusting my sleep cycle to the free days – that were free only in name – and providing food for myself, I fell short. Repeatedly. Homesickness wasn’t a problem I encountered much except missing my girlfriend. Part of me seemed to know that my family had been ready to accept my absence for a while, while me and my girlfriend obviously hadn’t. It was harder to be apart from this relatively new love in my life than the stable presence of my family that seemed immortal to me.

When one hears of the flat living horror stories that university students like to peddle, it’s hard to relish the thought. However I found my flat to be really nice people who frequently looked out for each other and organised social events for everyone. In fact, it is I who has become the flat terror, playing pranks of increasing annoyance on everyone, still testing their threshold of tolerance. I hope they don’t get sick of me as I have become too fond. Sometimes I make pancakes for everyone or anyone in proximity which hopefully makes up for it.

The culture of ‘societies’ and self-development through extra curricular activities at first bored me, alienated me and then empowered me. I quickly became disillusioned with the constant club socials and pub crawls most societies hold to fill their event quota and struggled to see anything I’d want to do. I mean no disrespect to any society, as they clearly entertain the majority and bring people together. The opportunity to create my own society however, sparked my interest and lead to the creation of ‘Slam Society’. My love of poetry and specifically performance poetry inspired me to create a platform specifically for that. We held a modest event with around 12 people in the last week of term and I’m really looking forward to growing the society next term. To me, this was probably the most engaging aspect of this term, trying to do something I had absolutely no experience in and buying too many mince pies for an event.

Seeing as this is primarily a History blog, I couldn’t finish without touching on it. The History department at the University of York is great. With one module based on history skills and discussing historiography – the writing of history – I struggled to be entirely interested, but everyone involved was quick to emphasise that that was not the point. The objective of the module was to read around the subject – something it isn’t always obvious to do – and to work on essays that were different to A-level exams and of course, increasingly to university standard. While I agree that this was probably a necessary module, I enjoyed the period module much more. Titled “The Last Days of the Samurai and the Invention of Modern Japan”, the module followed Japan from around 1854 to 1912, through its period of rapid modernisation. The tutor of the module, Oleg Benesch was excellent and each seminar had a really comfortable atmosphere. The only flaw with this was that I was perhaps too comfortable with having the wrong answer, however this only served to stimulate debate even further. Anyone interested in East-Asian and Japanese History should definitely check out Dr Benesch’s website for further reading.

I think I’ll finish there.

Paul.

Stuff:

Dr Oleg Benesch

Slam Society

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