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Calista's Blog

Calista with friend in the student union

My first semester of History and Archaeology

13/01/2017

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Calista Arthey
BA History & Archaeology

So my first semester has, perhaps too swiftly, come to an end.

I jumped on a plane, headed back to Colchester for 3 weeks, stayed with my family and friends, of whom I hadn’t seen for 3 months (my 9-year-old brother cried – it was very sweet), and before I knew it, I was back in beautiful Belfast. I’ve been back for a few days now, and it has been bizarre having barely anything to do.

Waiting for second semester like...

But I await the next semester – I rather like work; I like the challenge. In my peaceful days now in my dorm room (which is strangely quiet, as most people are still at home) I have time to reflect on my last semester.

Last year, where we were all stumbling like toddlers, in a new place and bright faced, I was surprised how quickly we got into routine. For those who went to different college after school, as I did, and is common in England, University timetables are rather similar, maybe with a few less lectures or periods.

My joint degree meant I had two Archaeology modules, and one History one – this semester it’ll be the other way around. I had on average, 2-3 hours at uni every day, in classes of no more than 40 students.

All the work is to be done at home, which, as long as you keep fairly on top of it, isn’t too bad. I know many people who left their essays to the night before though! Trust me, they regret it.

All the teaching staff I had were fantastic, and really keen for those in their classes to do as well as possible. I will say though that the key to getting the most out of your lecturers, and the semester in general, is to aim high, and to constantly ask how to improve. Some people get terribly upset about their grades, yet never seek or ask how to raise them.

If you’re considering a career in your subject area, like I am (but do I go down an archaeological or historical path? Personal dilemmas...) talk to them as well – I did in my first few weeks, and it really gave me an idea on what I can do succeed.

field trip to a castle

My first semester included two great field trips, with more to come in my second semester

One thing that is especially fantastic about the archaeology part of my degree is the trips. One of the first things we did was go on a two-day trip on our first week of arrival. We have since been to Newgrange, one of my all-time favourite sites, and have another trip down to Dublin at the end of January. You don’t even pay for these opportunities. They’re great fun.

newgrange field trip

A trip to Newgrange wouldn't be complete without a group selfie!

It was on that first trip when I arrived that I met all my friends. In fact, a big goal of that trip was to familiarise ourselves with others on the course and make acquaintances. I had good friends by the end of the trip, and a wonderful friendship group within a week or two. We’re all friendly with everyone in our classes, but us five stick together like glue. You’re all in the same boat, after all.

We’ve had some fascinating questions posed to us this semester too. In archaeology, exploring the definition of a Celt has to be one of my favourites. Many say that Celts, as we would view them anyway, never existed at all. I rather enjoyed writing a small 500-word piece on that.

Discussing the effects of the Black Death in my history module was also greatly intriguing – there was so much that occurred after the pestilence that I had never thought about before; especially the political complications.

with friends at the river lagan   Calista at the grand opera house with a friend

A late night stroll along the Lagan and a trip to the Grand Opera House

I mentioned that the actual time you’re needed at University is fairly low. However, my time was always filled. After lectures I always end up spending all day with my friends. Playing pool is popular, going somewhere to eat (The Speakeasy in the Student's Union does great food) or just sitting in the SU talking could last into the evening; and there are nights out of course. Weirdly we often tend to end up sitting by the Lagan river, which looks absolutely stunning at night, into the early hours of the morning.

The work load really picked up towards the middle-end of the semester however, and we all spent more time working on essays. I had one large one for history and two slightly smaller ones for archaeology. My archaeology modules, of which all my friends do too, also had several exams. But, as long as you dedicate a healthy enough time do your tasks, it’s definitely do-able.

It’s actually so strange to think that lasted 3 months. It just ran away from me. In many ways, I hope this next semester doesn’t go too quickly either!

Calista Arthey

History and Archaeology | 1st year | Colchester, England

18 year old student who came from England to study at Queen's - I study my passions (History and Archaeology!) and am also an exhibited artist and writer. Lover of the old-fashioned, and serial avoider of the gym. Play pool with my friends an incredible amount since I moved, yet I still manage to be a absolutely terrible player.

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