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Archive for October, 2012

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BSc (Hons) Psychology

University of Sunderland (FREE!) Travel Pass

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Being from Newcastle, I’ve been at the centre of a fair few conversations when I tell fellow ‘Geordies’ that I’m studying at Sunderland University. Of course, there’s the infamous Geordie/Mackem rivalry (to which I could not give a single care in the world) which is sometimes the subject of those conversations, but mostly it sounds something like this:

Them: Are you at Uni now?

Me: Yeah, I’m doing Primary Ed.

Them: What? Kids and stuff?

Me: Err… yeah.

Them: Where at?

Me: Sunderland.

Them: And are you still living at home?

Me: Yeah, I just get the Metro across.

Them: That’s a bit of a trek! Although I suppose it saves money, does it?

Me: It’s about an hour so it’s not too bad.



…and on it goes…


An hour on the Metro does seem like a very long time and, to be honest, it was probably the thing I had been looking forward to least about starting uni. BUT! It actually isn’t too bad at all.

Say, for instance, I have a 10am lecture at St. Peter’s. I would need to get the 9am Metro and change after about 3 stops for a train the South Hylton. After that, though, I can just find a seat and that’s me for another 45 minutes without a care in the world. As long as I get on that train, I (generally) have nothing more to worry about and it’s pretty much certain I’ll be there on time; I can read the paper, stare longingly out of the window, catch up on uni work or just have a little nap. If I drove to uni everyday, though, I could theoretically leave a little bit later, but I have to concentrate the entire time on driving and if I get stuck in traffic, I’m scuppered.

There’s also the financial side of it; petrol, parking, Tyne Tunnel, maintenance all cost money everyday. “But Metro tickets cost about £5 a day” I hear thee cry. ALAS NO! because you get a free travel pass for your first year of uni which not only works on the Metro, but all local bus services and even the train between Sunderland and Blaydon. And after that, you can buy a travel pass for far less than you can buy a year’s worth of petrol! It’s win, win.

The best bit is, each campus is a stone’s throw away from a metro station. The University station is literally inside City Campus and St Peter’s station is only about 10 minutes’ walk from St Peter’s Campus (that’s closer than Pann’s Bank accommodation) .

I realise I’m becoming a bit too fanatical about the whole situation so will leave it there, but honestly, the Travel pass is a massive help.


you can find out more about the pass here:

‘Amazing Grace’ at The Alnwick Playhouse

Friday, October 19th, 2012



Earlier this month, I was offered tickets to see the opening night of a new play which was to celebrate its debut at the Playhouse in Alnwick.


It was written by Trevor Wood (the one in the “Criminal” teeshirt) and Ed Waugh (in the middle – the lady on the left is Catherine, the lead actress); Ed is an ex-student of Sunderland University so it only seemed right to head up the A1 to see what the play was all about. I got in touch with Ed for a bit more information and found out that he studied Combined Arts in the late 70s and, like me, had lived at home in Newcastle while he studied. He told me that it was a very different experience going to Uni then, as opposed to now where everything is built around computers.



 “Things have changed for the better today because of the internet and computers. The internet because you can do instant research anywhere, and computers just to write essays; we used to do hand-written essays. I felt sorry for the tutors trying to decipher some people’s handwriting.” Ed Waugh




More similarities appeared between the writer and myself; he was the first of his family to go to Uni and he had similar interests to me, although it sounds like he was a little bit more rebellious!

This play, the ninth in a fascinating 10 year career for both of the writers, is about Grace Darling, the Victorian sea rescue heroine from Bamburgh, Northumberland, who in 1838, with her lighthouse keeper father, rescued nine people stricken on the Farne Islands. Grace became an instant national hero. She hated the fame and became a recluse. She also died four years later, aged 26, of TB. It’s doubtful whether Grace had ever been kissed, so there really wasn’t a lot to build on except the rescue, which would look good in a movie but how do you put that on stage?Ed and Trevor framed the play in the present, when a Hollywood film company comes to Bamburgh to make a movie about the Grace Darling story and they try to embellish the truth (boyfriends, terrorists blow up the ship, etc) while the writer argues for the truth. Hence, people learn about Grace while being hugely entertained by this zapping comedy!

It really is a good play and I’d definitely recommend it! I’ve put the dates of the rest of the tour below so you can see when it is coming to a theatre near you!


Consett Empire: 01207 218171 Saturday, October 20 (evening and matinee)
Hexham Queen’s Hall: 01434 652477 Monday, October 22 and Tuesday, October 23 (evening and matinee)
Gala theatre (Durham): 0191 332 4041 Wednesday, October 24 and Thursday, October 25 (evening and matinee)
Hartlepool Theatre: 01429 890 000 Friday, October 26
Gateshead Old Town Hall: 0191 433 6965 Saturday, October 27
Customs House (South Shields): 0191 454 1234 Monday, October 29 and Tuesday, October 30 (evening and matinee)
Blyth Phoenix theatre: 01670 367 228 Wednesday, October 31
Berwick Maltings: 01289 330999 Thursday, November 1 and Friday November 2 (evening and matinee)
Playhouse Whitley Bay: 0844 277 2771 Saturday, November 3 (evening and matinee)

Tickets for Amazing Grace are on sale from the venues. For further information visit

Student Support at Sunderland University

Friday, October 12th, 2012

I have been genuinely impressed over the past couple of weeks with the level of support offered to the students on my course and, as far as I know, across the entire university. Obviously studying a course like Primary Education means that you have to have a fairly secure base in your subject knowledge but equally you have to have the skills to match the academic expectations of the university; things like assignment writing and referencing. I’d be happy to bet that everybody on my course has concerns in at least one of these areas, so I suppose it should be no surprise that the university have made provisions for this.

If it’s maths you’re worried about, don’t be! There’s a member of staff whose job is to help you fill any gaps in your knowledge. Similarly, a member of staff is employed to help you build your study skills. On top of all of this, you are given a ‘Studies Advisor’ who stays with you across the full degree and is your first port of call if you have any issues or concerns.

These things really have been thought about at Sunderland, and I’m sure that once I get to know my lecturers better, even more windows of opportunity for support will open.



Am I mature enough for University?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

15: You can see most films all by your self.

16: You can buy a lottery ticket or scratchcard.

17: You can learn to drive.

18: You can get loans, a mortgage, buy alcohol, go ‘out out’. You get paid more, you get more letters, you can go to university… all of these abilities are flung at you because you’ve made eighteen trips around the Sun; because you’re now an ‘adult’. It’s a busy time.


So much has happened this Summer, and so much more because I hit eighteen last March. Despite this, I’d still be quite happy to go back to nursery and do it all over again – every last playdough moulding, Lego building, S Club partying second of it. Instead I’m stepping into a whole new world where it’s about assignments and lectures which has made me wonder: am I mature enough for University?

Let’s have a look at what I’ve done since the 18th of March, 1994:

Aged 0: Survived a rather traumatic birth. Nothing actually went wrong, but I was just too comfy and after 14 hours the doctors decided to disturb my peace during a C-Section. My focus was on sleeping; probably not mature enough for university.

Aged 1: “One small step for me, one giant leap… for me”. I reach the dizzying heights of not very high as I take my first steps. Again, the journey to Sunderland would probably be a little bit tough at this point: not mature enough.

Aged 2: I became the proud owner of a fully functioning garage and raceway. Miniature and plastic, of course (management skills not quite at University standards).

Aged 3: I learned to talk… kind of. I speak a language affectionately referred to by family as “Gobble-de-gook”. Interestingly, the only person able to understand (and translate) my clearly urgent needs was my sister of 7 years. Not great for lectures.

Aged 4: I joined nursery, ready to share my wealth of experience with classmates. Assignment writing not a strong point at this stage.

Aged 5: At the end of nursery, my teacher asked, “Who’ll keep me right now?”. I had inadvertently became headteacher. Writing my own name was still difficult: not ready for uni.

Aged 6: As parents ran a pub at the time, I felt it was my duty to become the entertainments manager. Domino card sales figures high priority; UCAS application low priority.

Aged 7: At a family party, I mounted the stage and screamed, “I JUST WANNA DANCE!!!!”. I fear this tactic would not suffice during Freshers… although my only craving when I’m out is still to dance and dance and dance some more, as friends will confirm.

Aged 8: I confront the ghost of Longbeard the pirate at Southerness Lighthouse in Scotland (beautiful place). All goes swimmingly until I get a fright from my Dad and run back to the caravan, locking said Dad out. You never know when you’ll need this skill. Ready for uni? Maybe not…

Aged 9: Following a school topic lesson on the Egyptians, I become a keen Egyptologist. I’m still fascinated by this subject, and the research skills used here are, I think, the start of something special.

Aged 10: I gain my ‘Computer Monitor’ badge after volunteering to come in to school early each day to start up the computers in the ICT suite. Granted, I did make my own badge, but the skills are mounting up. Not quite ready for degree level yet.

Aged 11: Oh, dear. I’m no longer the oldest in the school; I’m the little chubby year 7 who got lost on the way to French… this is a low point in my career.

Aged 12: I step into the shoes of the school’s Stage Technician. I’m in charge of concerts – pretty cool, I thought.

Aged 13: I lead a team that organises a school rock concert without adults. Feedback says it’s the best one so far. Feel on top of the world: get me to university.

Aged 14: I make my debut performance as ‘Voice Off’ in the original play ‘That’ll Be The Day’. My line was: “Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!” Yes, that’s five times! I’d like to thank my mother and my father and my director and… oh… it wasn’t that good?

Aged 15: I begin a torrent of letters to Northumbria Police, begging for a work experience placement. This skill of writing to get what I want has been invaluable, and I really mean that… probably wouldn’t have handled the student finance forms very well though.

Aged 16: I bought my first ever lottery ticket. I took my passport just in case. Feel like I might’ve been robbed of £1 but it’s the experience that matters.

Aged 17: Decide on my career. Big step. Begin volunteering at my old primary school. Feeling ready now, logged into UCAS for the first time. Also got a part time job in a department store. Say hello if you see me on the tills!

Aged 18: Passed driving test, kept my job, passed A Levels, got a place at uni, celebrated a bit too much, met a whole bunch of new people and used every skill I’ve gained over the years.


You know what… I am mature enough for university, because even though I still feel about 12, I’ve done a lot of things and I’ve got a lot of skills. Turns out I really am an adult, and that’s bizarre. What do you think?


More soon,


Student Profile:

  • Name: Kyle Brewis
  • Age: 18
  • Studying: Primary Education with QTS BA (Hons)
  • Hometown: Newcastle
  • Ambitions: To achieve success as a Primary School teacher and enjoy a long and satisfying career.

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