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Caitlin Irwin | University of Sunderland

English and Creative Writing BA (Hons)


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July 9th, 2015

Spectral Visions Conference

A few weeks ago was the spectral visions conference – a gothic conference held by the uni every year, so I went down and took some videos!



June 22nd, 2015

What To Expect In Freshers Week


Starting University can be daunting, especially if you’re moving away from home. Often theres a general sense of confusion over whats going to actually happen when you get there, but the main thing to remember is most other people are feeling exactly the same.

This is why you have freshers week. It gets you all settled in before you have to start your lectures and the real work, so for the most part you’ll just be finding your away around, meeting your lecturers and other students…and partying. You’ll receive a timetable for freshers week which will tell you what days you need to be in University and where to be. If you get the chance, it’s good to walk around the campus before the week starts and figure your way around a bit. Through the week you’ll have library inductions, and introductions to course leaders, and module leaders – you should really turn up to them. Chances are you’ll only be in a couple of days in freshers week and usually for not very long – so you’ll still have plenty of time to go out. Although they may not seem important at the time, you might regret not going later if you don’t know how to use the library or who your lecturers are.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 12.52.03

But thats mostly just the boring parts of freshers week, the rest of it is filled with events, and theres usually something for everyone. The main bit of freshers week is that you take the time to meet people, there’s events every day both in the university and all through the city. Don’t worry if you haven’t a clue what any of these events are yet – they usually release them a lot closer to the time.

What most people are looking forward to is the parties and nights out. There’ll be things on every single night, last year there was foam parties and paint parties and even comedy hypnotists. Go to them and enjoy them, it’ll give you a good chance to bond with your flatmates and people on your course. Remember that although its important to turn up to your inductions, the week after you’ll be starting your real lectures, so take the time to enjoy yourself.

Most importantly – go to freshers fayre! Freshers fayre takes place on the campus in freshers week and you’re guaranteed loads of freebies and vouchers (often for dominos and wetherspoons, which you’ll be thankful for later in the year). It’s also your chance to sign up for sports clubs and societies – sign up for anything and everything you’re interested in and give it a try. There are loads of different clubs at the University and they are such a good way of meeting people outside your course and flat.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 12.49.54 (last years freshers fayre)

Lastly – don’t worry if you’re travelling in to the university and either aren’t in halls or don’t live in Sunderland. Make friends on your course and in societies and usually someone will let you crash at their place for the night if you’re going out!


Caitlin x

June 7th, 2015

My Favourite Takeaways

It’s a must-have as a student to have some good takeaways around, so here’s five of my favourites.


June 7th, 2015

My First Year At University

So I thought I’d put together some of the amazing things I’ve been up to this year.


May 25th, 2015

Module Choices


So a few weeks ago the time came to pick my modules for my second year, and as my last assignment is due in tomorrow, I’m getting excited already to start again in September. I’m so lucky in my degree that I have so much freedom over what I get to do, and it’s one of the reasons I chose to do my degree here. Each year you do 6 modules, and although in your first year you have 4 core modules (you get to pick two), in your second year you only get 2 core modules, which means picking four youself – and the choice is unbelievable.

I had to pick two creative writing modules, and the other two modules I could pick anything from language modules, literature modules and there is even media-related choices (such as screenwriting). It’s very exciting, but at the same time this will dictate what I spend most of my second year doing…luckily, they all sounded amazing.


Picking modules is something thats really important, not only to shape your degree, but you need to think about what you then want to do in your third year, and when you’ve finished your degree. Thankfully all the lecturers are on hand to make sure you make the right decisions. The best bit, I think, is that you can look at how you are assessed, so if you want to avoid modules with presentations (like me), well, then you can!

Anyway, its been a crazy exciting thinking about everything I’m going to be doing in my second year, so heres a little run down of the modules I’ve picked:

The State Of Play: Twentieth Century Irish Drama


The Art Of Modern Poetry

Writing Prose Fiction

So thats just a little insight into what I’ll be doing next year, and I can’t wait.


Caitlin x

May 18th, 2015

8 Reasons I’ll Be Staying At The Forge


So this year I decided not to do halls properly, I’ve done them in the past at another University and to be quite honest – hated it. But this year watching a lot of my friends live in student accommodation at Sunderland has changed my opinion. And the place that really changed my opinion, was the Forge. So, I’ve decided to quit my moaning about how gross it is to deal with someones dirty plates and tell you why I’ll be living at the forge come September.

1. Dishwasher


It had to be number one. Washing up is the bane of my life, we’re students, and frankly we don’t want to do it. Hardly any student accommodation actually gives you a dishwasher, but at the forge every flat has one, as well as fully equipped kitchen. Yes, you may loose a few knives and forks on the way, but at least they’ll all be there to start with.

2. Parties


Okay, so we do work hard. But we party just as hard. And the Forge is the King of parties. If going out is your thing, then it’s the place to be. Expect Wednesday nights to be spent at a pre-Play flat party. Birthdays, end of term, start of term, assignment hand ins…they’ll all call for a party.

3. There Is Always Somebody Ready For A Night Out


Parties nicely leads me onto this point. There is literally always somebody ready to go out. The Facebook group and general community means you can always find someone who’ll take you up on the offer of a night out.

4. General Atmosphere


It’s the kind of place where everybody knows everybody. Although a deathly silence may be heard rolling around on a Thursday morning as everyones hangover kicks in, for the most part, the place is alive. This can only help when you run out of something, somebody’s always there to lend hand.

5. The Shop


Forget walking anywhere. Shop – on site. It’s another thing that unique to the Forge, and another reason to live there. It’ll just make your life easier.

6. Janet


What would the shop be without Janet?

Scratch that – what would the Forge be without Janet? Not only do you not have to walk far to get yourself snacks, going to the shop will be something to look forward to. So much so, some people pop in just to say hi.

7. Flat Mates


You are thrown together in September, and although it’s scary, for most people, the experience is worth it. They meet some of the best friends they’ll ever have in halls. You’ll go through everything together. From the Wednesday night build up to Thursday morning hangover you’ll be with them. They’ll see you in your best and worst states, but it’ll only bring you closer.

8. The Actual Flat Itself


But, lets not forget about the actual flat. The kitchen is fully equipped and modern, the bedrooms aren’t worn out and old, and theres a little living space where you can spend your time with your flat mates and if your lucky, someone bring their TV in there occasionally.

April 30th, 2015

Top 3 Favourite Things Abut University

The Opportunities

They are endless. There is so many societies to pick from and join at the University, but that really isn’t just it. This year not only have I got to be a blogger, but I’ve been on Spark Radio, started to help run the ‘writing north east’ blog, helping start a magazine with Spectral Visions, getting the opportunity to be published, getting my video put on the University website. It’s been crazy and I know theres still so much more ahead.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 14.19.38 (on Spark Radio)

The People

And I don’t just mean other students, everyone from students, to lecturers, to disability support staff. It’s without a doubt I’ve met some of my best friends at University this year. Like, to the point we have cute nick names for each other (please don’t kill me guys), and so many group chats. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how amazing the lecturers are here, they’re always there to help you with work and much more. The english department has to be one of the closest and the best departments in the entire University. So big up English.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 14.16.58

 (Me and Holly/Hollivanda/Bae/Youelly)

 Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 14.17.28 (English students/lecturers)

Wednesday Nights (…so many nights out)

Coming to University in Sunderland will open up so many opportunities. One of the, er, less so academic opportunities is the chance to get ‘sensibly’ drunk on a student night. If you’re in a society wednesday night will be a ritual, and if you just love going out it’ll pretty much be a ritual too.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 14.17.53

(Squad wednesday night pre-drinks)


Caitlin x

April 22nd, 2015

Being Dyslexic in Higher Education

So, earlier this year I found out that I have dyslexia. At first, I was extremely worried as to how this might have an impact on my life at University, and my degree, would I struggle? The answer is simple – no. Although at times being dyslexic might seem like it gets in the way, your ability to get a good degree is really not effected.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 11.00.08

The University of Sunderland is great in that it’s disability support are truly amazing. If you want the help, they will give you all the support that you need. They can help you apply for your disability support allowance and then make sure you get anything you need that may help you (such as dictaphones, laptops, tuition).

When it comes to exams, extra time allowance still applies, so if you’re eligible for it, you will get it. Lecturers can be made aware of any requirements you may have also, so that if you need reading materials and things for lectures and seminars before the class this can be provided. Any difficulties you may have with presentations or speaking out in class can also be made known to your lecturers so that you don’t have to worry and arrangements can be made.

The most important thing to do is if you want the support, or think you are suffering from dyslexia you just have to take a trip to disability support. Dyslexia tests are provided for free at the University, and providing you get your disability support allowance, extra one on one tuition is also free.

I’ve found that the best things I can do to help me manage is by staying organised. I always make sure to get my reading list as quickly as I can and try and read the books I need before the semester even starts that way I don’t have to try and do it while managing assignments as well. I keep a diary and lists, and try and plan out my writing for essays in timetables. Printing of notes for lectures and highlighting the important bits can also be something which is extremely helpful. Having your own strategies can really make a difference.

Finally, being dyslexic in higher education does not make a difference to your learning and will not stop you getting to where ever you want to be.

And, if you don’t believe me, heres a list of famous people with dyslexia:

Agatha Christie

Tom Cruise

Winston Churchill

Richard Branson

Tommy Hilfiger

Kiera Knightley

…and theres like so many more.

agathachristie richardbranson


Caitlin x