Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On living in Oxford

Here's a sequel to my previous post :D

Oh, Julie, it definitely is possible to lose weight while in England. For one thing the food is pretty expensive. Also, it's not very good. If you want yummy food, you have to eat out which brings us to point number 1 :D I've lost 20 kg in a matter of months :) Then again, I'm on Atkins-lite (which really means I cheat too much to say I'm really trying >_< ) so that helps.

I'm going with a different color scheme this time around.


Hi Chantal,

I really can't thank you enough for that reply! It really helped me! I've also been looking through your blog and its really nice to read what you have done in your classes. I have spoken to someone from UCL and Stirling too and I think the Brookes course sounds much better and flexible, the others are too rigid! I'm hoping I get in, my applications go in next week or so. The maths bit scares me a little as it was my worst subject :(
Are you an international student? How is the accommodation at the uni? And I've been to Oxford when I was on holiday once, and I loved the place, but what is it like to live there?

Thank you :)

Yeah, I'm an international student. I'm staying in Cheney Student Village which offers a 50 week contract. The other halls are 30 weeks.
Cheney is also ensuite which means I have my own bathroom (which also means I have to clean it myself *sigh*).

The rooms are quite nice, airy and bright and quite spacious for university accommodations. They're fairly new too, the ikea furniture still nice :D There's 6 people in our flat and we share a kitchen. It's not as nice as an actual house but it's enough for now. The postgraduate blocks (P,R,S,T and U) are fairly quiet. I had to sent the Residence officer quiet down the people upstairs only once (hey, they were playing really bad techno, screaming and jumping around at 3 am on a weekday!)

I've been inside Crescent as well which is the cheapest of the halls and it's quite nice too. Very cramped but it had a nice atmosphere. They also have shared kitchens but they're a lot smaller. Also, it's quite far from the Headington campus.

The university also owns some houses in the area and if you apply for a shared house, you could end up in an actual house to share with other Brookes students. My boyfriend is in one of these and they're ok. His house is a bit worn down and the heating doesn't work well but they have a kitchen and a little living room and their own washer and drier which is great because going up and down the stairs and out in the cold to do laundry (and pay a whole 3 pounds for one load!) sucks. They also have a garden.

Personally, I like living in Oxford. It's not a big city which sometimes annoys me but I got used to having a ridiculous amount of possibilities (even though, in all fairness, I only ever did the same things over and over again anyway). It's cheerful and small and I can go everywhere on foot. There are paths along the rivers and before long, it feels like you're outside of town, walking through the countryside.

The supermarkets are fairly limited and the choice is small for my international tastes but they have the staples and some places have decent prices and decent quality (oh, Peru! How I miss thee!). The weather is much nicer than I expected. I've never experienced such a mild winter. Maybe it was a fluke this year but it's been pleasant. There are a lot of students but it doesn't get too crazy expect on some streets during the night. There are a lot of student nights in the local clubs that attract either more Oxford students or Brookes students. There's a strong sense of partying at night, every night. I'm not much of a club goer myself but I've heard good reviews of places like Lava, The Purple Turtle, Clem's and The Carling Academy.

There are lots of restaurants offering different cuisines. Jamie Oliver has an Italian restaurant on St. George street that is wonderful apparently. I'm saving it for a special occasion because it's also pricey. Quod is good, also elegant and one of my friends met Emma Watson there and got an autograph! There are several Indian restaurants that are very good. I lived 4 years in India and sometimes, I need some good Indian food. I'm pleased with the offerings generally although I wish there was more than curries, Indian food is so varied and interesting it's a shame they don't offer more different dishes.
My favorite places to eat are Nando's (mmmh, spicy chicken!), Gourmet Burger Kitchen ('nuff said) and the Brittania pub up in Headington (it's close, cheap and the food is very good).

Well, it's getting pretty long so I'll sumarise, I like it very much here. I wouldn't mind staying on after I finish the M.A. except the local publishers don't really do trade publishing and I'm not interested in Academic or Educational publishing. London is conveniently close but still, 2 hours commutes one-way is a bit much for me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another letter from a would-be student

Hey there!

I'm planning to apply for the Publishing course at Brookes in Sept '09. I wanted to know how the course is, how you find the course structure to be, the faculty and the uni? Also, how many people do they take in a class?? Is it really hard to get through to this course?? Do you know much about the other Publishing courses (UCL,Kingston,LCC,Stirling
,Plymouth and City?)

Thanking you,


I'm glad to help. I'll handle your questions in order :)

1. The course is very intensive. We learn a lot of stuff very quickly and by the end of the first semester we knew enough to work in any department and possibly publish a book on our own. There are 4 mandatory modules, 3 (Editorial Management, Marketing management, Production and Design) are taken in the first semester and the 4th (New Product Development) is in semester 2. Everyone, regarding which of the Publishing M.A. (straight M.A. in Publishing, European, Digital etc) they're doing, has to take these modules. Then in semester 2, you also have to take 2 other modules that you get to chose (Digital Media, Rights Management, Children's Publishing, Magazines and Independent study in which you pretty much get to make up your own module etc.). The classes are half lectures which the Lecturer teaching and the other half is seminars or workshops in which we do some practical exercises usually divided into smaller groups.

The Lecturers are all great and very helpful. There are a couple whose teaching style is a little lacking but they make up by being happy to answer questions and see you in private if you need more help. It's fairly informal and we call them all by their first names, so you see, it's really very friendly. Everyone's here to learn so it's not a problem that we're so informal. Some of the lecturers are born comedians so their lectures are hilarious as well as informative.

The uni has a computer room just for publishing in the Tonge building with all the software used in the publishing business. We mainly learn to use Adobe InDesign which is the most widely used now. There's also Quark but if we want to learn how to use it, we're on our own.

2. The mandatory modules are for everyone and there's no limit to the number that can be. This means that everyone taking any of the Publishing M.As. will be there. At this time, that's about 75 of us. Of course, some people don't show up to classes and prefer to learn on their own using the lecture slides and the part-time students don't take all the mandatory modules at the same time so they're only there for one or two modules every semester. It sounds like a lot of people in one room but it isn't that much really and the lecturers are very good at reaching even the people at the back (I know because that's where I usually sit :D). For the elective modules, we're in smaller groups. There's no limit to how many people can be in one class but they're usual self-limiting in that there's many modules and people have different interests and goals so the main group breaks up into smaller ones. Children's publishing and Rights Management are the ones with more people.

3. I didn't find the classes to be too hard but they do demand a certain amount of work and, in my opinion, it's important to go to every class. It's not really possible to start your assignments at the last minute, for one thing, because a lot of it is group work. You don't get to chose your group so you never know who is more or less reliable. There's some maths involved in Marketing and Production which some people have a hard time with but I was terrible in maths in school but found it fairly easy if boring. Another possible difficulty is whether you can learn software easily or not, then there's the design aspect where some people are just naturally better at it than others. But I've seen everyone's Design projects and was very impressed by them.

4. I know that the City and Kingston programmes are good. City especially has a good reputation. I looked it up a bit because I applied there too. I think the difference is in how theoretical vs. practical the programmes are. Otherwise they teach more or less the same things. City is in London so that's one thing to keep in mind as well.

Have a look through my blog at http://publishingu.blogspot.com

I talk mainly about what I'm learning and doing and things like that. I'm not a very regular poster but there might be something that could interest you.

I'll be happy to answer any other questions you have.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dissertation or Major Project Subject


The time is coming soon when I have to tell the lecturers what the subject of my dissertation or major project will be. I think I want to work on an environment and publishing subject but I need to narrow it down to something. I can't think of any one particular subject I want to concentrate on.

I'm also interested in Open access, YA, fanfiction, podcasts and blogs. If I could just find a subject that joins at least a couple of these interests, it would be great. I wish I had something I was really into then at least, no matter how bad an idea, I'd know what I want to do. There's a girl in the course who wants to do hers on Twilight, which I think is stupid (not the books, as a topic for postgrad work in publishing) but at least she knows what she wants.

I'm starting to get worried. There really isn't that much time to pick a subject for work that will take months to do and will determine whether I get my M.A. or not.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year! Wooot!

Happy New Year everyone!

I get ridiculously excited with the New Year. It's the only holiday I care about (after Hallowe'en). It's 2009, that's one year away from the geektacular year, 2010. I've only made one resolution for this year that I think I can stick to. That's to keep on losing weight and reach my target this year. Should be okay, it's only 30lbs to go. I've already lost around 70 so...easy...

Sorry I haven't posted more often but I'm still recovering from semester one. That was a lot of learning. I'm also stressing a bit because I need to come up with a dissertation/major project topic this month and to be honest, I have no idea what I want to work on. The dissertation/mp is the single most important bit in getting the M.A. Either you do the dissertation, a long written piece or the major project which is more hands-on (some people produce a book, some run projects bringing literature to some disadvantaged area (one girl wrote and produced a book which she went and distributed in South Africa bringing chick lit to the poor) etc.)

There are a lot of very interesting topics. I'd love to do something children's and/or environment related. I had a crazy really good idea but the more I think about it, the less I think I can do it. It's very complex. I'd also like to research this whole thing of podcasting stories and novels for free which I find very intriguing from a publishing point of view (not just as a wannabe writer).

I've been talking to one of the lecturers about the possibility of starting my own podcast within the frame of his Digital Media class. He said he'd be happy to show me how to go about it and host the podcast although it wouldn't be graded because it wouldn't be fair to the others that I get to make up my own assessments. So, there might be a Publishing U. podcast sometime in the future. I don't know exactly how to go about keeping a 'cast, Gods know it's hard enough to keep track of a blog and find something to write semi-regularly. What am I going to talk about?

Still, I've wanted a podcast for ages. It'll be a good learning experience if nothing else.