my first day at UEA

started in a somewhat funny way: I had gone to university quite early, arrived there at 8.15 though our induction was to start at 9:00 only, because I wanted to have time to find the room in case this would be difficult. It wasn’t, so I had more than half an hour left that I spent reading “The Age of Capital” by Eric Hobsbawm, one of Britains’s (probably the world’s) greatest Marxist historicians.

When I entered the lecture theatre at about ten to nine,

there were about 15 other students and more were coming in, all from different postgraduate taught modules at the School of Environmental Sciences. At 9 sharp, I asked my neighbour if it was common in Britain, too, that academic events always startet a quarter of an hour later than officially stated, but this (apparently very German)  tradition was completely unknown to him. Ten minutes later, he pointed out that everybody only had the draft schedule for the introduction day and that this might have been changed, but different people had checked it out on the Internet during the last days, so we were quite sure it had remained there unchanged.

At about half past nine, two students who had already done undergraduate Environmental Sciences (ENV) at UEA and therefore knew a bit about who to ask, went for the teaching office and came back with the notice that the timetable had been changed and that we were to be welcomed at 10.When the lecturer who was to to the welcome session entered at 9:35, he was very lucky about so appearantly motivated students until he knew why we were early…

He told us about what we were going to do today and tomorrow, how great a University UEA is, about plaigiarism and collusion and some other stuff I don’t remember right now. Then we had another hour of listening to the Deputy Security Officer about fire alarms, fire extinguishers, safety procedures, risk assesment and things like that – good and important stuff, but I heard most (and more) of it three times per semester in my undergraduate studies, each time we were going to use a new lab, and so I started getting a bit tired.

After that we sett off with some people, most doing Climate Change like me, to get some lunch. According to our surnames, we had two different times for the official registration procedure, where our degree certificates were to be checked. One of the guys in the first group, who had graduated at UEA, told us they didn’t even take his certificate out of the envelope to have a full look at it. They were also satisfied with my non-translated German University letter “My German is not so good, but I see you graduated, and that’s what counts.”, said the lady. (I had supposed I was to fulfill a condition concerning my marks, but I did fulfill it anyway, so that’s all right).

The most interesting item in our welcome pack was surely the list of modules we may choose, and their respective descriptions. It seems I am going to stick to the chemistry and physics things more than I had thought, but that will be fine anyway. (And we do have a compulsory module on Climate Change, Society and Politics, so I am not going to miss that part anyway.) Tomorrow. I will have to find out if I can take the modelling module  – they want you to have some experience in programming, which I don’t really have. But at least I did a computer course in theoretical chemistry last year, so maybe that will do.

Tomorrow we’ll have some more welcome words (from the head of our school), get to know the computing facilities and meet our academic adviser – mine is also our course director and director of the climate research unit. And then there is the welcome party with free drinks and the price for the Campus Quiz that nobody is too motivated to fill out. (For the people from Bremen: yeah, it’s just like the “how much does an ISIC cost?”-like stuff …)

Apart from university I noticed that you can buy the same vegetables for two or six pound a kilo – depends on if they are packed (expesive) or loose (cheap). Wonder who is buying the packed ones…


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