Disability, My Life, Student Life

FreshersFest18

INTRODUCTION

The end of September meant the start of another year at University. I don’t know where that summer went, way too quick for my liking. One minute, I was clicking submit for the last piece of my coursework, next, I was relaxing after a long year, doing all the things I loved to do in my spare time, then I was interviewing for a new personal assistant and purchasing my freshersfest18 wristband and then it was time to get packed and move back to Leicester.

While I was packing for Leicester I couldn’t help but let my anxieties boil up and spill over. I was about to start my third year; the most important year of my university education and I was terrified. I still am. But I found reassurance in my decision to hire Hermione aka Melody, following her interview and the decision to hire her, I welcomed her into my house and we conducted two training days. As she had never done care before, I was anxious that the care involved in the job role would frighten her off. This was made better by Sabrina, my carer that has remained by my side for two years to come along to my house and help Melody with the training. The training days went really well, I was able to show her the parts I would need assistance with and we were able to hang out at the same time, which allowed us both to feel less pressured and enjoy ourselves. I was so happy with how well things panned out, Melody is a pure gem and I am glad I chose her, she makes a great addition to our team. The training days were also vital to see how the three of us gelled as a team as we would be spending a lot of time together for a long time in an intense environment, so it was important that we gelled. I was over the moon to find the three of us did gel after these days together.

Following the training day, the two of us were able to spend some time together before we moved to Leicester and I started University. Melody was so fun and bubbly this was very clear she was. While we had our days together, we touched on our plans for when my studies started and this showed how focused and determined we both were to achieve high so I am able to graduate at the end of the year. I loved how much fun we had in the days leading up to move-in day in Leicester and it really showed that we could work hard and play hard while studying at De Montfort University.

On the Saturday that we moved back into halls, my dad and brother were kind enough to drop me off and they helped me unpack and helped me personalise my room, while Melody unpacked her own things and got settled. We decided to take a small break and planned to head into Highcross shopping centre for a bite to eat. On our way through campus, Melody and decided to go into the SU to pick up our wristbands that I had reserved prior to freshers. When we arrived, we saw that the SU had already closed. This was really annoying as it was the opening party at O2 Arena, Leicester that night and I really didn’t want to miss out.

OPENING PARTY – O2 ARENA 

After my dad and brother left, I wandered into the kitchen and unpacked my food into my cupboards and the fridge and the freezer. As we were packing the first lot of things into my bedroom, I found that it was very quiet in my corridor and I assumed that the students who I was going to live with hadn’t moved in yet, but the limited space in the fridge and freezer indicated otherwise. While we were in the kitchen, Melody and I met a few of the students we were living with. There was no awkwardness, they all seemed chatty and confident and this was an improvement from my first impressions of the students I was living with the last two years.

Later that evening, I returned to my bedroom and got myself comfortable and I started to feel a bit homelier. I must admit when I was having time for myself after my dad and brother left, I did shed a few tears I was very anxious in what this year would be like and what its outcome would be. When Melody came into my room, I quickly composed myself and we started to get ready for the opening party.

I reminded myself that it had been us stressful few weeks and it was time to let my hair down and have some fun in freshers fortnight. I had been looking forward to it for a long time. Playing a few party tracks on Spotify in the background to our little mini party and having a few drinks, Melody and I started to get ready together and I really enjoyed this I was in desperate need full some girly time. Melody loves doing hair and make-up for other people and I enjoyed being pampered while we were getting ready for the opening party. I don’t have any sisters and this time with Melody made me feel the strong bond like two sisters.

As it was the first party of Freshers Week I chose a simple outfit a leopard blouse and black leggings with black boots, I also requested for Melody to do a subtle hairstyle and apply a simple level of make-up to my face. I wasn’t quite sure who I would be meeting that night and I didn’t want to overdo it or appear like a fake to my friends as I’m not one for having my hair styled and my make-up done.

The opening party has been held at the O2 Arena in Leicester for the past two years. Unfortunately, the club is too far to walk so I have to get a taxi, costing me £10 either way. This is very infuriating as this means I am £20 out of pocket before I even get into the club. Weaving in and out of crowds, Melody and I pushed our way through up to club’s entrance. The access into the O2 arena was really good as there was a ramp right into the main entrance, all I had to be cautious of was not running over anyone’s toes when trying to make my way in. There were some rude and obnoxious people who were waiting to get it. The number of dirty looks that were cast in my direction. I had to listen to their muttered comments too, just because I am in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I can’t hear people when I pass. It also doesn’t mean that I can’t go out into nightclubs and enjoy myself. I hate these narrowed minded people. The security and bouncers on the doors were friendly and reminded us to call on them if I need any assistance while in the nightclub.

 

Not having freshers wristbands yet, Melody had to have our names checked off on a list. I was lucky that they had a record of my booking, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to get in and enjoy the opening party. Having been here on my previous two freshers weeks, I immediately went into the main room on the ground floor, but the bounces encouraged us to go onto all floors to enjoy all the music and there was a lift which would enable us to do so. I continued into the main room as this room played my favourite genre of music. I really enjoyed the music in there and though I didn’t see Wilkinson, who was headlining, there was a lot of club and party music that I recognised and enjoyed dancing too, especially after a few drinks. I had quite a few students from DMU, mostly those who I didn’t know come and dance me. The students clearly had consumed a lot of alcohol and this was shown to me in the way they spoke to me and the way they danced around me.

Despite this, I had a really good night and felt no desire to journey to the other two floors.

MYUNIPAL CINEMA NIGHT – THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

The opening party was crazy and we didn’t get in until the early hours of the morning. This meant I had a hangover when I woke up that same afternoon. Melody had a hangover too. Now on Sunday and with the freshers ball the next day, I decided that I wanted a quiet day, so I wasn’t going to overdo it and get too tired in just 3 days.

Melody and I had a really relaxing day and we’re preparing for a film night when I saw a promotion for a MyUniPal cinema night. DMU was going to show The Greatest Showman on a big screen on campus. I loved this as it sounded a really fun night and it was an alternative to going to a bar or club for the night. I was quick to book tickets for me and Melody, it was a nice, chilled night, watching a really good film. It’s a very popular film and musical and this was shown by how many people turned up to the showing. I didn’t expect it to be as busy as it was, when Melody and I arrived there were limited spaces, students were sat on benches and tables surrounding the screen. Students were even sat on the floor, huddled in duvets and blankets to keep warm while watching the film. The night of the showing was clear and thankfully there was no rain. Although while Melody and I were watching the film, the weather did chilly and the wind was thin and bitter. Tugging my Hogwarts throw tighter around me, I was able to keep warm.

The night was very fun and I was able to get out of the halls for a few hours, without feeling pressured to drink and socialise in a loud, crowded bar or club. I defiantly needed it!

FRESHERS BALL – ATHENA 

Over the past two years, the freshers ball is the one I have most look forward to and enjoyed out of the entire Freshers Week. I absolutely love Athena nightclub in Leicester as it is really vibrant and there is always great music playing which can be danced too. Athena nightclub is also really accessible and disability accommodating one of the best ones I’ve seen in Leicester. When Melody and I arrived at the club by taxi please or there were very big crowds surrounding the club and they were all trying to get past the bouncers to get into the club. I did not envy the bouncers’ jobs at all. On seeing us the bouncers waved us forward and showing our wristbands to the bouncers at the door, we were able to gain access into the main nightclub. Buying our first round of drinks, we avoided the hustle at the main bar which was surrounded by freshers who were pouring in to get their drinks. Weaving through, we found ourselves on one of the main balconies which gave us a clear view of the stage where the DJ was currently blaring music which vibrated throughout the nightclub. There were a number of balconies which made up the nightclub and they were each like steps, each one was lower to the next so the stage wasn’t blocked from view as people were watching who was on stage. All of the balconies were wide and had a decent amount of space to talk and laugh without necessarily bumping into one another. As I am not as tall as everyone else, people crowded around me, blocking my view to the stage. Luckily for me, there was ramp access to all of the balconies, so Melody and I were able to move when we felt claustrophobic. Unfortunately, compared to the opening party choice of music, I didn’t recognise many songs that were played at the Freshers Ball. I also didn’t recognise the Freshers Ball headlining act, Yxng Bane or any of their songs which did not help. On the flip side, by   not recognising the majority of the tracks made the ones that I did recognise more significant and I loved dancing to them. My dance moves got crazier as they were fuelled by quite a few vodka and cokes. I had a real head ache the next day!

TRIPS TUESDAY

Within all of the freshers wristbands, there is a key activity called ’Trip Tuesday’ which freshers can participate in. This year’s options were Twycross Zoo and Escape Rooms and WarnerBros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. These events are aimed to appeal to different sets of freshers to encourage everyone to get involved. From a personal point of view, I absolutely hate ‘Trips Tuesday’, I can never go on these trips, DMU don’t provide accessible transport. Yes, I could make my own way to the location and meet people there, but I feel that being able to go with people, travel with them there and back. I felt if I did get my own transport there and back, I would be put at a disadvantage when I’m on the day out. The most annoying and upsetting thing about ’Trip Tuesdays’ is every year, I miss out going to the WarnerBros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. I know I have been more than once before, but I absolutely love going, especially with different people as it is a different experience every time. The exhibition is very accommodating for wheelchair users and disabled people. To enforce the disability notion, there are ‘Changing Places’ facilities. I absolutely love Harry Potter and cannot wait to go again next year!

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS (2018)

Not being able to go to ’Trips Tuesday’ and there not being much else taking place that day, we looked for something else to fill our day. After some consideration, Melody and I decided to go to the cinema and watch The House with A Clock in Its Walls starting Jacob Black and Cate Blanchett. The film was good, fascinating and full of twists of turns, the plot was captivating. I would say the film was similar to Harry Potter, but had its own signature as well as elements from Harry Potter!

ZOO PARTY

I had not yet been to the DMU zoo party before and I really looked forward to going this year.  It really was a fun night. My favourite tunes to have a good dance too! Melody and I really enjoyed ourselves, drinking and dancing. We loved the excuse to dress up in costumes and for Melody to do our make-up in a new and creative way! I dressed up as a leopard. I had a black vest top on, with a leopard print skirt and then Melody designed the make-up, so I had leopard spots on my face. Then Melody dressed up as a zebra. Black legging, a black and white stripped jumper and painted half of her face in zebra print. We defiantly looked the part amongst all of the other students who had come to the party in fancy dress! 

ACTIVITIES FAIR

Out of all events in Freshers I particularly looked forward to the activities fair. Though I know of the majority of activates, clubs and societies that are available at DMU there are always a few new ones released each year so I always feel a desire to go. Students can have a look around at all the stalls available and browse them at their leisure without there being too much pressure at the event to sign up. I enjoy walking around the different stalls and though I don’t sign up to everything I find it interesting to speak to the people who run the stalls.

Immediately I went to the Demon Media stall as I had already secured the producer role for the Demon Chart show I went over to see if there had been any new details about the show that I hadn’t already been aware of. I also enjoyed standing at the stall for a while to catch up with some of my Demon Media friends that I haven’t seen since I finished for the summer. I know that Demon Media will play such an important part of my third year, all the stands on Demon Media will contribute in their own way. Being a producer on Demon FM will help me to build on my skills that I have been fortunate enough to acquire over my two years and also shape me into a professional so I am prepared if I want to go into radio once I graduate. I also wanted to step up my game and write for the Demon Magazine so I could have more published work to add to my journalism portfolio.

I was also quick to join the Harry Potter Society, as I adore everything related to all the books and the films. I’m little sad to be honest when it comes to facts and trivia surrounding the films and books. I love how the society allows me to mix with other Harry Potter fans and discuss all of our different theories with each other. I am thinking of writing my own Harry Potter prequel fanfiction in the future. I think discussing these theories and meeting more like-minded fans will help me structure and create an accurate prequel which is true to both the fans and the authentic universe told to us within the books and films.

The other two societies that I joined was the Bloggers Society which I was a part of last year and the Demon Crew which is a long-standing society but will be new to me this year. Although I was a part of the Bloggers Society last year I didn’t take it as seriously as I hope to this year. I aim to post regularly on my blog and I hope to expand my number of followers on WordPress by writing about lots of different subjects, not just post based on the world of disability. I want to create a website that will be seen as up to a professional standard, which can compete with other similar blogs. The Demon Crew is a creative writing society that I considered joining in my first year but at the time I thought I would be taking on too much and I decided to concentrate on one society whilst I settled in at DMU. Fast forward to this year, I am joining Demon Crew to build on my skills and to be able to create my own pieces of fiction, developing them which I haven’t yet had a chance too. I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember and I really do hope that this society can help me develop my stories and other pieces so that when I graduate they are not far off publishing. I really want a head start on this, as I know from my lectures and workshops that I have had on publishing, the process of building up your own personal image and style as an author and getting your novels out there can be a lengthy one.

Unfortunately, while I was at the activities I couldn’t find the stall for the Film Club society, this was a real disappointment as I really wanted to join but following the activities fair I have seen a few posters belonging to the society which advertise the different films being shown. I am planning to keep an eye these posters and I will be attending a showing of the first film I see that I like!

FRESHERS FAIR 

I wasn’t planning to go to the Freshers Fair this year as I have been disappointed in what I found. But in the end, I did go to see what organisations were there, promoting themselves to students who enrolled in 2018. There were many stalls which promoted their companies and organisations around DMU, but also around Leicester. The aims of these promotions were to drive costume towards their companies and organisations. There were many restaurants and pubs promoting themselves and giving out free things related to their establishment. Companies were trying to get students to sign up via their websites or a membership and receive details and discounts related to their company. As Melody and I made our way around the fair, we kept getting passed leaflets and vouchers and we kept getting enticed to sign up to memberships. We left the Freshers Fair and returned back to halls and to be honest with you, I have no idea what I signed up too!

MYUNIPAL GAMES NIGHT

This games night during freshers week is another opportunity for new freshers to come together and socialise in a relaxed environment without feeling the pressures of going out and drinking in a club. Though I wasn’t a fresher myself, I enjoyed myself during this games night. It was really fun and everyone was easy to talk to. The chat came easy and it allowed me to speak to all the nervous freshers, as a third year, and reassure them about their fears of university.

T-SHIRT BAR CRAWL

I participated in DMU’s Bonkers bar crawl in my first year when I was a fresher, but I wasn’t overly impressed so I decided to give it a miss last year. As I intended this to be my final year at DMU and to graduate next year I decided to go on this Bonkers bar crawl. When I originally brought my freshers wristband back in August, I had to choose a specific time and t-shirt colour in which I was to wear on the night. I chose to start the bar crawl at 8:30 as it would allow to for me to get ready and enjoy pre-drinks with my hallmates before actually going out. Although you have to pick your colour of t-shirt in advance many people on DMU freshers Facebook pages will advertise wanting to swap t-shirts for a different colour, this means you don’t have to panic about picking the wrong colour and not knowing anyone as usually there will be someone out there eager to swap with you. Melody and I ventured into Highcross Leicester, having already had a few drinks, raring to go. The scene was utter chaos with students going in every direction trying to find their friends and going into different clubs and bars. It was difficult with me as I spent most of my time weaving in and out of crowds trying to get through and into the bars and clubs. When I managed to get through to bars and clubs we found the bouncers very kind and patient as they waved us to the front of the very long queues and into the pubs. Once inside I located a table and stayed there as I didn’t want to risk getting bumped into and to spill my drink all over myself, although this plan wasn’t entirely successful! I really enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the night and when we got back to the halls we had cheesy chips, which is always good after a long night of drinking.

ACTIVITIES – GIVE IT A GO DAY

This year I didn’t take part in the Activities – Give it a go day, but on previous years I have always found it a good day as it give freshers the opportunity to experience the clubs and societies that they joined up to the day before and find out whether the clubs are right for them or not. It is also a good opportunity to meet a small group of students who are already involved in the various clubs and societies, this means that freshers don’t have that pressure of meeting everyone all at once.

DMU MACMILLAN COFFEE MORNING 

So, this event is one of the most difficult elements of freshers week for me personally. But at the same time, it’s an event that I think is so important. My family has been affected by cancer twice and it has been the toughest thing we have ever had to face. Having an event on like this during freshers is so important because I know there will be so many other students at DMU who have had cancer affect their and their families lives, so to hold an event like this it will enable so many people to come together. My family have grown so close because of the troubles we have faced. I hope that by being involved in events such as the DMU Macmillan Coffee Morning it will help myself and many other students to share experiences that we have gone through together as well as raise money for such an amazing charity. Help save more lives!

INJUNCTION – KRISPY KREME EXTRAVAGANZA

A finale to an action-packed freshers week, Melody and ventured to the Krispy Kreme extravaganza. The event was based on the main DMU campus. Doughnuts were available and we could indulge in them as many as we liked. There was all the variety off a Krispy Kreme shop.  My mum loved Krispy Kreme doughnuts, we used to have them on our mother-daughter days, while out shopping. I loved the Krispy Kreme extravaganza and I thought about her with every bite I took!

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