Felix's blog posts for 2012

Two weeks have passed. Things have happened.



Sometimes, writing is really hard. I haven't posted an entry here last week, even though I'd meant to – and still mean to – write something worthwhile every week. I felt somewhat excused last weekend, because Saturday was strange and stupid and Sunday was good weather and there wasn't any time for writing in between those two. This week, I have no excuse – I might even say, again, since last week's excuse is not really tenable – but somehow, the words don't seem to flow as they should. There's certainly no shortage of good things to report, however. In fact, there are quite a few new and exciting things going on!

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By incident most strange, and: Bountiful carton



In 55 East Slope, the walls don't have ears. They have faces. It must have started at a party a few weeks back. Aluminum foil must have been around aplenty, as have faces. Now, the two are one, and they are staring at us, watching our every move, guarding the pots in our absence, ensuring peace and safety and a vague sense of creepiness in our kitchen. The latter they achieve in a joint effort with a set of red balloons who, stuck to the ceiling during Freshers Week, must have made a sinister oath not to deflate. I believe they may have sold their souls to achieve pneumostasis, their immobile, blown-up countenance inanimately, but enviously glaring at us when we eat.

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Acquired taste



I was at the Brighton Dome last night, listening to the London Philharmonic Orchestra – conductor: Osmo Jänksä, violin solo: Christian Tetzlaff – performing works by Nielsen, Dvořák and Rachmaninov. Under the NOISE scheme, student tickets went for just £4, which, for a high-brow concert like this, is as good as free. Sussex students interested in similar offers should definitely sign up to the appropriate newsletter; the LPO will be back in town in February and March with three juicy-looking concerts.

Being a lover of more traditional classical music, I expected mixed feelings.

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Aiming high



I can hardly believe it's only been two months since I first set wheel onto the Isle. So much has happened in the intervening time, so many things about me and my life have changed, and changed again. I went from being the epitome of the lone traveller to being surrounded by a wide network of friends and acquaintances – and yet I have plenty of time to myself, to retreat and think, to read and write. I went from not knowing where I'd sleep before I'd see the spot, from always being on the move, to having my own bed again – and yet, in nine weeks, I have not been in one place for more than three, and that wasn't the current one, either. I went from having all the time in the world to feeling quite overwhelmed with work – and yet now, I am searching for more things to do in my spare hours.

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Welcome, autumn!



Coming back from summery 25°C in Kyoto last weekend, the air in Brighton felt like it had almost reached the freezing point. I wrapped myself up in winter clothes, shivering regardless, and felt rather sorry for my ailing throat. Air conditioners and a cool evening breeze, alongside with a rampaging virus, had left almost all choir singers rather vulnerable, which in my case took its toll on the last evening in Japan, when what was essentially a farewell party left me quite literally speechless. On the flipside, the same party shortened my sleep enough to turn jetlag into a non-issue – as it turns out, a 4-hour night followed by a 24-hour waking day is quite adequate to readjust my body clock.

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The last two weeks, I've been staying in Kyoto, Japan. And although the 2012 medicine/physiology nobel prize went to Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka, this was obviously not a study trip for me. Instead, what got me to the Land of the Rising Sun started some ten years ago, when the Gewandhauschor Osaka partnered with the Camerata Vocale Berlin – a musical collaboration among amateur choirs on opposite sides of the planet. It started one-and-a-half years ago, when I joined the Camerata Vocale to reinforce their sparse tenor section. And it started a few weeks before Christmas last year, when the president and conductor of the choir convinced me to sign up for the Japan leg of the third series of the two choirs' joint concerts. And thus, on 1 October, I departed for the Far East, travelling outside of Europe for the first time in my life – a Swiss tenor of a German choir, leaving Britain (via Paris-CDG, France) to perform in Japan.

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Domo arigatou gozaimasu!



Picture the title of this entry as being said in conjunction with deep bows and a face-splitting smile, for cultural completeness. It's a hint to where I am right now1, and it means Thank you very much, and indeed, I have much reason to be grateful: To Michelle and the Recruitment Office team for running the Welcome Week blogging competition and awarding my blog; to all who commented on my efforts, in writing or in person, for providing criticism and encouragement; and of course to all of you, the readers, for your lending me your attention and showing interest in my writing, even if the only trace you left was a click.

I entered the competition on little more than a whim – a volunteer urged me to do so when I cycled across campus with all my belongings on the day I moved in. It seemed like a welcome opportunity to exercise my writing muscle and an easy way to let my friends and folks beyond the Channel know what's going on without writing essentially the same letter a dozen times or resorting to bite-size facebook status updates. Winning the competition seemed a distant possibility, a pleasant side-effect in the unlikely event that it did happen.

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On living arrangements



I live in East Slope, which is, as every Sussex student knows, the on-campus residence with a legendary reputation for being a party hotspot. It's a reputation well earned – and East Slope's current tenants are doing their best to keep up a good tradition – but it's also a misrepresentation that could easily deter peace-loving people like me who might, in actual fact, feel quite at home here. Let me explain.

When I applied for on-campus accommodation, I did so based only on the information presented on the University website. The picture I got there was, on the whole, quite accurate: Small rooms, facilities shared among several people, party hub. I wasn't thrilled at (1) and (2), except for their consequences on the rent. And, since I considered myself the antithesis of a party animal at the time, (3) was, if anything, a signal for me not to choose East Slope. However, being in a rather tight spot financially – I don't get any loans or other support for fees or rent – I decided to quell my qualms and choose cheap over comfortable.

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On the road – again



Today, my Freshers Fair signup frenzy had its first direct – and very enjoyable – consequence. I went on a surprise ride with the Cycling Club! I expected a crowd as I headed out of sleepy East Slope to the Library Square. Instead, I was only the second person with wheels in sight. Half an hour and some introductions later, we'd grown to a fabulous group of five. We set out into a most beautiful autumn day, riding up through Stanmer Park to Ditchling Beacon. There – after regaining our breaths and enjoying the view – we unfortunately had to part with one of the crew, leaving just three lovely women and myself to continue onward. But onward we rode, with a tight grip on our brakes down towards Ditchling and thence westward, past Hassocks and through Hurstpierpoint to our chosen target, a...

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On fairs and friends



The Fresher's Fairs on Tuesday and Wednesday were arguably the busiest, most packed events I've attended this week so far. On Tuesday, many of Sussex's student clubs and societies presented themselves in a bid to recruit some of us first-years. And boy, were there many of us - and many of them, too. There really is something for everyone, from fencing to films, from pirates to politics, there's so much to choose from that I'd be surprised to find anybody at all who couldn't find at least five things to sign up for.

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