2018 was a big year. Scrolling through my photo collection, I was struck by just how much happened and what I was able to accomplish in 365 days. You really would think that most of this happened in 2017; there’s no way I did all this in a year.
The Instagram trend of sharing photos from the year gone by has been and gone. It inspired me to follow suit, but as a blogger I knew there’d be little chance of describing everything going on in my pics on Insta. Small captions are not for me. I took time to decide on what to share and how I’d describe these memories. This post is mainly for me, to have a public memory to look back on. But when there’s an opportunity for some good content, I’m always going to take it.
Here are just a few of the incredible things that happened during the first five months of 2018:
Stirring from bed on the first morning of the new year, I ventured into the cold, the wet and the windy. I was struggling on less than five hours sleep and a nasty headache, wrapped in at least 17 different scarves to keep me warm. We were at the Cheltenham Racecourse, risking pre-Student Loan pounds and pennies on horse races.
We’d attended the event the year before, and I had fantastic luck finding a ticket on the floor that won me £95. All I came home with this year was a cold.
Our selfie was taken by none other than professional photographer Lydia Viney. She specialises in children’s fashion.
One highlight this month included catching the UoB Lions crushing Birmingham City University in a game of basketball. As someone highly invested in the ‘my Uni>your Uni’ culture, watching our rivals get thrashed was incredibly satisfying.
I made frontpage news!
I’d been writing for Redbrick, UoB’s student newspaper, for three years and had only managed this feat once, in 2017. By sacrificing my degree for a solid week, which is a lot of time to lose in Third Year, I conducted an investigation into study space on campus. I questioned: were we really running out of room? Or had students fallen for a myth purported by the vocal minority?
Long story short: there was more than enough space, but nobody could be bothered to move three feet away from the library (and can you blame them?).
Yes, that is a fake mosutache. No, my friends don’t actually wear glasses.
The occassion was the BEDSOC (the Birmingham English Department Society) Ball, an annual Spring event. 2018’s theme was The Great Gatsby, and the Botanical Gardens were full of glam, glitter and jazz to emulate the seminal novel. It was a good time all round, Old Sport.
“I LIKE LARGE PARTIES. THEY’RE SO INTIMATE. AT SMALL PARTIES THERE ISN’T ANY PRIVACY.”
A lifelong friend visited not long after the Ball, and together we travelled to Sarehole Mill. We explored J.R.R. Tolkien’s childhood playground, learning about the events that influenced his creation of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This is a must-see for any Middle Earth fans.
Before mass panic ensues, I need to address my right hand in this photo: yes, it is indeed on the leg of the Queen of England. But the eagle-eyed readers amongst you will notice that she isn’t real. Shockingly, she’s actually made entirely out of Lego.
This lifelike replica that rivals Madame Tussauds in quality resides in Hamleys, so I took the opportunity this month to visit Royalty.
As I slogged along with my dissertation, I came across a peculiar note in a textbook. Enscribed on it was a wealth of History. People had been adding their names, degree title and date of study since 2011, and I joined them. It makes you wonder just how many people take out all the library’s books each year, and what they’re used for. I wonder who will have taken the book out after another 7 years. I wonder if anyone’s taken the book out since I used it.
April also saw the release of Avengers: Infinity War, which I sped off to the moment I’d handed in a three-day exam paper. As a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan since the release of Iron Man ten years ago, this was the ultimate reward for working a non-stop 72 hour stint in the library.
The sun shone brighter than ever on the day I handed in my dissertation. I’d be lying if I said it had been a long, difficult path. It was difficult, for sure, but that’s because I wrote the majority of it in March and April. I didn’t like having to do it in this way, but as it was officially an extended essay – half the length and credits of a diss – I was allocated fewer hours each week to work on it. I had to devote more time to other modules, whereas my dissertation-writing friends had the full time available each week. I’d say this makes extended essays harder than dissertations.
In the end, the struggle was worth it. My assignment, an investigation into the post-humanism and humanism of two post-apocalyptic texts, secured a 2:1. Would the same be true for my final result? Find out next Monday.
With exams and essays over and done with for what I assumed would be forever, I was able to properly enjoy being a student for what felt like the first time. There was no work to worry myself over, and with two months left on my tenancy in Birmingham, I had all the time in the world to do as I pleased.
On the first bank holiday of the month, I finally met this good girl. She didn’t look that fussed.
A week later, I visited The Arena Birmingham with my parents to watch one of my all-time favourite comedians: Michael McIntyre. The comedian raked in at least £632,000 from that performance alone, so I can’t begin to imagine his net worth. Not that he needs more money, but if you do ever have the chance to see McIntyre, I would highly recommend his performance: our cheeks were on fire.
The third week of May brought with it two birthday celebrations, the first being spent in Bournemouth. I’d only visited the City once before, so it was great getting to explore the sights and sounds. One highlight involved tasting the world’s best burger. My taste buds had never been happier.
The morning we left Bournemouth, we arrived at Weston-super-Mare for another pal’s birthday. We spent the day on the beach, plunged into the muddy sand and were nearly rescued by authorities who feared we’d gone out too far, and drove go-karts on the pier. I’d not been since a very young age, so reliving my childhood was great fun.
At the end of May, I became a proper tourist. I visited Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park, but only after getting lost en route to Hyde Park. You would not believe how long I waited for a people-free pic of the Palace’s gates.
That weekend in London ended with my return to a soggy Selly Oak. The flooding was the worst I’d ever seen: trains were cancelled and my replacement bus was abandoned due to dangerously wet roads. We were more than half an hour away from home, and with a suitcase and rucksack in hand, I made the uncomfortable walk across the city. All I had for company was a podcast on my dying phone. I hadn’t eaten in hours. What a day.
Stay tuned next week for the second part of my 2018 in review: The Final Seven Months. This Friday I’m advising you on coping with UCAS referees who take ages to reply, which should ease heaps of anxiety. See you then, as ever, at 5PM GMT.