As soon as my first week of classes were over, something felt off. I found myself watching one too many episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or scrolling too long through my phone aimlessly while lying in bed. I no longer found myself rushing to the subway station to try and get to my internship on time or worrying about my lectures and their looming due dates.
Time! How did I have so much free time? I decided to make some calculations based on my routines last semester at Temple and my current routine here at UEA. And here is the big kicker — contact hours. I take three classes at UEA this semester, which convert to 15 credits in Temple hours, 5 credits a class. 15 credits per semester are pretty much what the average student takes. The contact hours, however, are not average. This semester I sit in class every week for a total of 10 hours. Last semester at Temple I sat in class every week for a total of 22 hours.
Close that jaw, I know! I remember clearly every day last semester leaving for classes at around 10:30 and not returning home until around 6 or even 9 in the evening. Going from the hustle-and-bustle environment that is Philadelphia to the long, quiet, internship-free environment here in Norwich had me scratching my head. What in the world was I going to do with all of this time?
As I became aware of this shift of pace in my life, I kicked into full gear. It was time for me to take matters into my own hands, build my own schedule, and make myself busy if class time wasn’t going to fulfill that for me. After all, why would I want to be binging Netflix or scrolling through my phone all day when there are a million new experiences for me right outside my window?
To start my intervention, I headed to Cambridge. I booked some MegaBus tickets last minute with a few other abroad students, and within a mere hour we were in the beautiful historic city.
The architecture was stunning: cobblestone streets, brick buildings, cathedral ceilings — the English version of an American Ivy! Each street we walked down was lined with unique mom and pop shops, each specializing in different crafts such as hand-sewn wallets, scarves, knitted hats, and hand-made mouse decor (yes, mouse decor). There were bookshops on every corner and behind those, cafes.
I found that traveling to little cities near Norwich could occupy the majority of my time during the weekends — but what to do during the week? The majority of my time will be spent in a quiet hidden cafe in Norwich’s city center or at the cozy library on UEA’s campus completing homework assignments. But I can only do that for so many hours without my brain completely melting from ingesting Shakespeare and contemplating Plato.
My remedy for using up my free time during the week? Joining a club and society! With over 300 options, I narrowed it down to two: UEA Yoga and the Creative Writing Society. Why not exercise both my body and brain while letting off steam?
Yoga offers 5 classes a week that are an hour and a half long. With so many classes offered in a week, I can dedicate a lot of time towards my practice. The Creative Writing Society meets every Friday for two hours, which kicks off my weekend with an amazing start. All in all, traveling on the weekends and dedicating time to practice my hobbies gives me the perfect opportunity to stay busy and to meet new people who share the same interests. Who says life in Norwich can’t be busy?