All posts by Charles

Packing Update

Today has been the first day i’ve actually felt that i’ve got somewhere with the packing. I’ve now got all of my clothes sorted except the coat hangers, and who knows what i’m going to do with those. I also went shopping for a few kitchen items I didn’t have, like a baking tray and a knife. While I was out I bought food for the first few days of university: just pasta, biscuits and a pot noodle, what more do you need!
As for everything else, which at the moment is pretty much everthing, it is mostly lying on by bedroom floor waiting to be directed into boxes. The main effort is going to happen tomorrow, so its just preporations for then when eveything needs to be sorted, boxed or bagged and then labelled. Fun, Fun, Fun!
Only two days to go now!

The Course & Campus

The University of Surrey campus is located a mere 10 minutes walk from Guildford train station. The town centre is only 15 minutes walk away and there is a Tesco 5 minutes in the other direction. But, if your not keen on walking, the campus as a fair few tricks of its own. There is a students union (called Rubix) along with a number of restaurants, cafés and bars. The gym on campus is going to be one of my favourite places to be because of its HUGE climbing wall surrounding the basketball court. The gym also has all the usual facilities you can expect such as weights, courts, machines and courses. The university are currently building a new gym and other sports facilities in a brand new complex just off campus that will include, amongst other things, a new climbing wall and full-sized olympic swimming pool. You can find out more about this project at I will hopefully find out more about the clubs and such on offer at the gym during the next week or so.
As for the course, I am studying Digital Media Engineering MEng, which is essentially Electronic Engineering with modules on Audio and Visual Media. The media part of the course is focused on how to utilise modern technology to create digital media that can entertain, engage and educate an audience. The term ‘digital media’ can be used to describe animation, broadcasts, film, online video, special effects, websites, games and motion capture. However, the media side of the course is less apparent in the first year of study where the focus is learning the basics of electronic and signal engineering and mathematical engineering concepts.
In total, the couse is 5 years long. That breaks down as 3 years for the core course, a year out in industry and a final year for the masters course. The way they work it is that the year in industry happens in my 3rd year, essentially splitting up the couse into:
Year 1  —  Year 2  —  Year In Industry  —  Year 3  —  Masters Year
For me, the course and the campus were the two key features of Surrey that stood it apart from anywhere else. The course is only in its 4th year, but it was created to meet the demands of companies who had been asking for a course like it for years. And the campus is very self-contained, and where is doesn’t provide, local facilities are only a stone’s throw away.

What Does a Student Need?

It’s an age-old question, albeit a young age: What does a student need nowadays? A 52-inch widescreen plasma TV with Sky HD, 12.1 Surround sound, the latest £4,000 laptop and, of course, a pillow. But what else?

The popular choice is cooking equipment, and everyone has their favourites. I’ve gone for a very basic sandwich toaster for two simple reasons:

1) I got one for my birthday, and

2) It doesn’t require a degree in food technology to use! Perfect!

Besides from that I have also got the usual suspects: Cutlery, pots, pans, a whisk (now there’s a story), bottle opener (essential, apparently) and a can opener (otherwise how would I open the beans?)

Onto the bathroom! Shaver (because women love a close shave) and a towel. Seriously, what else do you need?

Finally, the most important room for any student, the bedroom. Technology-wise I am equipped with a desktop, laptop, camcorder and MP3 player. Most people would see this as overkill but because I am studying a relatively technology-rich course I have opted to take both a laptop for lecture notes and on the move, and a desktop for the serious coursework.

An obvious omission from this list is a TV, and this is because my computer can now double-up as a TV, to save space. This is an interesting decision actually. Because of the small nature of a student room it would be ridiculous to have a computer and a TV, so the decision is instead to either get a TV tuner card for your computer or forgo the TV altogether and use BBC iPlayer and the TV in the common room or your friend’s room to watch the occasional programme. The advantage of the latter is cost: you don’t need to pay for a TV licence. For now I am decided on the first option, but I will hold off and see if I get a good enough TV signal in my room before I start to pay the TV licence fee.

Whether I need all of the items above are debateable but I’d guess that you have most, if not all, of the thing listed.

The countdown is down to 4 days, and I still have a lot to do.


What To Expect

The start of university is going to be full of surprises, but there are a few details I know already. I will arrive at the campus on Sunday and move into my room. In the evening I am invited to an informal welcome where I can meet a few staff and other students on my course and then another to meet people living in the same court as me. The rest of the week is packed with everything from welcomes to talks, tests to fairs and much, much more. Its fair to say that I’ll have plenty to be getting on with.
As for my room, my accommodation has been organized for about a month now. I am staying on part of the campus called Cathedral Court, which, incidentally, is next to the cathedral. It has about 7 blocks of rooms with 2 “houses” on each floor. Each house has 6 or 7 people living in it sharing two bathrooms and a kitchen. I’m living on the ground floor and am sharing with 5 other people. They mix everyone up so I will be sharing with people studying all sorts of things.
As for what else to expect, I’ll have to wait and see! Only 5 days to go now!

The Story So Far

University is only a week away now, and now is a good time to take stock of where I am and what I’ve got. The last few months have been very peaceful. After finishing Sixth form in July I have indicated my way into the slow lane and comfortably stayed there for the past two months.


In July, I and four friends spent two weeks on the boat having a great time. We went round the canals in Birmingham and stopped off at Drayton Manor on the way. Really, it was the basis of the whole trip as we effectively just went there and back in a big circle).


The remainder of the holiday has largely been spent sleeping (I wish!) with exception of the night before results day. But, never fear the news was good and AAB was the exact result I needed to get into Surrey. And for those who want a detailed breakdown of my results, you’re very unusual. 


Two weeks ago I went to Sheffield to visit my sister, Becky, in her new, very cool, house. I really enjoyed it because I got to witness the arrival of two cats (Millie & Daisy) who are so cute (I’ll add a video later), Jordan’s first day at school, Alastair’s first day at nursery, plenty of trips to the swimming pool (three in total) and a grand mish-mash of family for my birthday party on Saturday. The whole time over the last two weeks has been amazing and really fun.


Arriving back to London on Sunday night gave me the opportunity to go to Thorpe Park one last time (well, until October) with some friends before we all go our separate ways and never see each other again.


So now it’s down to business. With a mountain of packing to do and an Everest of paperwork to get around, I certainly won’t be sleeping much for the next few days.


I’ll be keeping you up-to-date with my latest goings-on and giving you more details of the first week of my new life in the coming days. I hope you find this blog as much fun to read as I do writing it.