The Easter Egg Madness or how international students spend their Easter at Uni

Homemade Easter Eggs! :-)

Being an international student in the final year and having assignments due in just a week after the break, means one thing – 99% chance that you’ll stay at uni for Easter, instead of flying back home. Unless, you want to get yourself in an assignment madness and spend 2 weeks with no sleep  :) Let’s say my friends and I decided to keep our sanity and we stayed in Worcester during the Easter break, enjoying our time with dissertations and International Marketing assignments. However, this didn’t stop us from enjoying Easter day, trying to recreate the atmosphere that we would have had at home. 

In our home country, Bulgaria, we paint eggs and we bake very delicious Easter bread, called ‘kozunak’. We didn’t have time to prepare it, but we had time to paint 15 boiled eggs!

2014-04-19 13.52.18The process of painting the eggs is always exciting and brings me back to my days as a child, when I was helping my mum and my grandmother to paint the Easter eggs.

It is great fun, as you can get creative with how you want your eggs to be painted and there are many different ways for making your eggs look funky!

On Saturday, we used the paint that my flatmate’s mum sent us. The tradition is that the first egg is always red and the oldest woman in the house draws a cross with it on the forehead of each member of the family, with special attention to the children, so that they are healthy throughout the whole year.

A variation is that the mother touches her children’s cheeks with the egg for health. What we did was to draw a cross with the egg on each other’s cheeks and forehead, so that we can stick to the tradition as much as  possible. 

After about half an hour, we had all eggs ready! 

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Easter Bunny guarding the eggs! :)

The tradition says that on Easter the family gathers together and everyone picks an egg to do some ‘egg-fighting’. The person whose egg remains unbroken is the winner, or ‘Borak’ and this means that the person will enjoy good health and luck. The winning egg is kept until the next Easter.

When we went to see our friends on Sunday, we brought the eggs with us, so that everyone can have an egg and we can do some egg-fighting. None of us had the ‘borak’ and we put the eggs into the meals we prepared on the day. 

Now, if you want to try making a ‘kozunak’, here’s a recipe (and a challenge) for you: 

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 large lightly beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup scalded milk cooled to 110 degrees
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • About 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces melted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon n
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preparation:

  1. Combine the yeast, sugar, 1 egg and warm milk in a large bowl or stand mixer, let it stand, covered, in a warm place for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the raisins with the rum in a small bowl.
  2. Heat 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan until it warms up and set aside. Combine the melted butter and oil in a small bowl and leave it aside. Separate 2 of the eggs, reserving the yolks for the egg wash, and in a separate small bowl beat the whites with the other 3 whole eggs and vanilla. Start adding warm milk mixture, then butter-oil, the eggs, and drained raisins to the yeast mixture – make a good mixture out of it! :)
  3. Then you can start adding the flour (you might not use all of it) and knead until you get a smooth dough – it will be sticky. Transfer to a large oiled bowl and cover it with greased plastic wrap and let rise until it gets double sized (1 to 2 hours).
  4. Open the wrap, punch down the dough and let it rise again, covered, for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Punch down dough and knead for 1 or 2 minutes. Divide it in halves. Divide each half into 3 pieces and braid on parchment-lined sheet pans. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise about 30 minutes. Brush with reserved egg yolks and sliced almonds. Bake about 30 minute or until golden brown and the temperature inside the oven is 190 degrees. Take it out from the oven, remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Good luck! :-) 

10 ridiculous photos of a drama student.

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You’ve all heard of the stereotypical drama geek at high school – The kid who generates exuberant eccentricity, the kid who has an overactive imagination and – of course – the kid who has a flair for le théâtre.

Pretty much like that at uni, to be honest. I was scrolling through photos I was tagged in throughout my fresher’s year and what I found, absolutely befuddled me.

This wonderful originality will be sure to come through in any photo you get tagged in on Facebook.

I’ll show you some of my most shocking, random… confusing pictures from last year.

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I may be 19 in this photo, but…

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

So yeah… I’ll just keep unleashing that youthful dramatic creativity.

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I actually remember what this photo was about.

As I said in my other blog, I love to take part in films and I was acting alongside a little girl who had this pink…err…moose?

Thought I’d grab it off her and pose for a picture. Nah, didn’t really.

A thing I’ve noticed about drama students is whenever the see a camera they run to it and do the weirdest things or make the weirdest faces.

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Parents usually give their struggling student children  groceries or a spare tenner when visiting.

Mine gave me a tree from Ikea.

Blame the parents!

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Especially if you’re a drama student, you’ll change your style like no tomorrow!

Guys not so much. But I had to nurture a huge beard for the web series I was in.

But now I look back at it, I do look proper Spanish. My Dad will be so proud.

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He wouldn’t be so proud about this one. Looks like I have one leg and the fashion sense was purposely abysmal (I hope).

You’d definitely know how to spot a drama student around campus – They’d wear ridiculous costumes around with complete confidence, like it’s so casual to walk down the corridor with a fancy, flamboyant, feathery Victorian hat.

I remember the guys in our group had to come in dressed as girls for a feminism lecture – Your average Joe wouldn’t do that.

Takes someone who’s rather ‘unique’.

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Some people like to dress up for Halloween, drama students go that extra mile

That’s not the only time I’d be wearing make-up – I’d have to wear it on stage to stop the stage lights reflecting.

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I honestly haven’t got the foggiest clue – What on earth was I thinking?!

It’s like taking Necknominations to a whole new level.

As I said before – Drama Student + Camera = Craziness

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It’s a fast car lifestyle! When I was filming the web show, I got the opportunity to ride the classic Sinclair C5.

The ‘I-don’t-give-a-monkey’ attitude allows these wild drama undergraduates into many different adventures.

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GO COMPARE! As I said, new styles all the time. I do drama, but I don’t do opera…

 

After this post, my employability skills will increase by 20%.

Thanks to the University, I’m now a paid touring actor!

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I’m very proud to say that during my time at Worcester I have done a lot as a Drama student and as an Ambassador. I co-run weekly drama workshops at The Hive, I assist in drama open events, I’ve assisted with youth theatre and the National Theatre Connections project and I’m also employed as an actor!

It sounds so weird writing that down and probably makes me seem quite pretentious but it’s true, I’m a paid touring actor! AND I haven’t even graduated!

10152095_10151942663242167_300394727_oFor me, the arts are a crucial part of being a human being and the work that I do through the University has allowed me to give something back to young people, prospective students and to the community. The outreach and communication team are, in a way, investing in imagination and I’m grateful to be a part of that.

In March 2013 I was employed as an actor for a University of Worcester commissioned Theatre in Education piece called ‘It’s Up To You!’ A team of four actors, including myself, and one stage manager were asked to devise an hour long performance/workshop aimed at 13/14 year olds choosing their GCSE options. We incorporated a high level music and six strong (often multi-rolled) characters that experience first-hand the trials and tribulations of balancing friendships, relationships and school work.

The programme also includes an interactive voting system and during the performance, it is the students who have the final say in the decisions the characters make. By using voting software (very high-tech!) the students votes appear on an interactive whiteboard and the majority votes determine how the performance goes. It sounds more complicated than it is, but it does mean we, as actors, are kept completely on our toes because votes are separately casted three times and you can never normally tell which route the students want the characters to take!

10149968_10151942682972167_1476816315_nChoosing GCSE options is probably the first time that anyone has to make an important educational decision; and quite often these decisions affect your future. I know when I chose my options, I wanted to do Psychology purely because my friends were doing it and we got to go to our local Sixth Form College every week, not because I had any interest in Psychology! In hindsight I should have chosen History at GCSE and who knows, maybe I’d be doing something drama and history based now!

Our T.I.E programme encourages students to focus on what they’re good at, what they enjoy and addresses other decisions young people make on a daily basis but also addresses the fact that these decisions aren’t the be all and end all and it’s okay to change your mind.

 

As a group, we started by looking at our own personal experiences from school, revisiting memories and having a lot of laughs along the way! In reality, we were at school not too long ago and although fashions and music tastes have changed, relationships, family matters and friendships haven’t and these were what we found fundamentally important and therefore wanted to explore.

After the performance, if we have time, we talk to the students about our own personal experiences and, in turn, they can ask us questions. This lets the students know, I hope, that we understand what they’re going through because not too long ago, it was us making these decisions.10168412_10151942663477167_271546574_n

After weeks of rehearsal, we began touring the programme every school day to secondary schools across the Midlands (and even Wales!) between the 10th of June and the 5th of July. We performed in classrooms to group of up to 30 children three times a day, five days a week. We also performed a couple of times for staff members at the university and I think it’s safe to say the performance was very well received! In fact, it was so well received that we were asked to tour again at the end of January this year and also this summer. It was a bit of whirlwind, to be quite honest, and it was very tiring but also great fun.

The whole team really have been great. The programme has been directed by one of our Drama and Performance lecturers Alison Reeves, who specializes in educational theatre (as far as I’m aware) and Julie Fisher who does tons of youth theatre work and is 1796605_809806049046659_1850771991_ncurrently studying for her MA in Drama at the university whilst working in the Outreach and Communications departments! It’s all go!

We also found late last year that the university had put us forward for a prestigious HELOA (Higher Education Liaison Officers Association) award, which we were shortlisted for! A team from the Outreach department went on to present the programme in January at the annual conference and we only went and won!

 

So I can now turn around and say that I’m an Award-Winning Actor! We’ve now been asked to tour the programme again this summer for four weeks and we’re also taking it to the Natural History Museum in London for a week in June as part of Universities week 2014 – all expenses paid!

One of the best things about this programme for me has been the friendships formed between the group (as cheesy as it sounds). When you’re working every single day with a small group of people, it’s fair to say you become pretty close.

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Driving for miles around the country, laughing (sometimes bickering) and performing every day, doing something we all feel very passionate about is the most amazing feeling and I cannot thank the university enough for this experience. Bring on the summer!

Play an instrument? Start a student band!

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You’re going to uni, or you’re at uni and you play an instrument – Why not join a band?

I did.

In my first year, I got asked if I wanted to jam sometime with some mates and perhaps be in a band. I jumped for the opportunity, as we all had our instruments at uni, but were merely collecting dust.

We met up and jammed for a bit and agreed we worked well together. Voila, my first ever band was born. Jared (left) played the guitar and did vocals, Sam (right) played the melodica and various synthesizers and I played percussion.

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Perfect! Now we needed to think of a band name. Some ideas came to mind, some rubbish from my part like ‘Tech-yes’ instead ‘Techno’. Oh dear…

We gave up and just had a rest from improvising and brainstorming. Sam had some bananas on his windowsill and offered them to everyone. We thought it was quite funny, everyone having a banana on the short break we had, then Dan (Our friend, and Sam’s flatmate) had a light bulb moment.

Breaktime Banana!

We all thought it was genius, rather catchy and quite ‘out there’ (like our music).

Wasting no time, we had a photo shoot soon after being branded ‘Breaktime Banana’… For our future multi-platinum album cover of course!

 

Remarkably, we had our first ever gig three days after forming. It felt great having some friends coming over and supporting us and we enjoyed listening to other local bands perform.

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We kept on doing open mic nights, I recall one day we did about two or three and we visited a number of interesting venues.

We met a variety of inspiring people whether it was giving us advice, criticism or even some business cards.

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Talking about inspiring people, a guy from BBC Introducing approached us saying he recommends us record some tracks and send them to him to be played on air across Hereford and Worcester.

Everything escalated so quickly!

When I was working at a summer camp in America, we got asked if we would like to play two gigs at the Worcester Music Festival.

I couldn’t be prouder seeing our name on our first poster.

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It was such an exciting year and we had a great journey together, but it’s quite a big commitment and we need to focus on our studies as these are important years.

I definitely encourage you to do it!

 

 

Some ideas for homemade birthday gifts

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Being a student, it’s often difficult to gather the money and time together to buy birthday presents. But when it comes to celebration time – especially with the big numbers like 21st – it’s still nice to be able to give something.

So why not try to make something? …anything you can think of! Even just a handmade card can feel special.

Over the past couple of years I’ve experimented with various ideas for birthday gifts. Some more successful than others! I always try to think of something that the recipient would love – a personal gift!

For someone whom I know loves to read, I made them a colourful monster bookmark, and for a friend that is almost obsessed with Pokemon I got back into baking and made them pokeball cookies! If I can be creative, then you can too!

  • Food – I know you may have seen some of my posts about baking, such as my experiment with cupcakes, and here I am talking about it again (I loooove food). But let’s face it, EVERYBODY LOVES FOOD, so I think it’s impossible to go wrong with this one.

    From all the sweets such as pastries, homemade birthday cakes like the ones Christopher posted about, to even a homecooked meal, a treat of food that they don’t have to pay for is the most ideal for students….and probably your family too!

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  • Jewellery - Do you remember friendship bracelets? I certainly do. And honestly I still love them! It may take a little more time than baking food would, but I know from personal experience that people feel really appreciated when they receive one.

    You can experiment with threads and beads from craft shops from across town; my friends and I particularly love buying from Brimstone Gifts. And we all know that students love kids things like glitter and stickers…

  • Cards - Speaking of stickers, have you ever tried attacking a piece of card with them? It’s pretty fun I tell you.

    I can’t tell you just how many cards I’ve made over the past couple of years, using stencils and big colourful pens to make something a little more personal. It also shows you’ve taken a little more time than from just buying one from the shops!!

  • Anything personal!! - Maybe your friend has wanted to borrow that copy of Eragon off of you but you’ve never gotten around to giving it to them – well now’s your chance!

    Pay your friend a visit that you haven’t seen in a while. As long as you bring yourself, and a smile, you’ve probably contributed something to their special day.

Honestly, if it’s something that involves some thoughtfulness, it’s always appreciated. As we’re all students anyways, most of us understand that it’s difficult to part with money that’s needed for things like rent and food!

Tutorials for all of the items that I’ve tried to make I’ve found online. So little imagination you can get exploring and be creative (and cheeeap)!

Drama students: Doing a written dissertation is optional.

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When I say this to people, they automatically reply with ‘I HATE you!’

I tell them that next year, I’ve got the choice of doing the standard individual research project or a final performance.

If I do choose the final performance, I will work in self-selected groups or on my own. I prefer the latter!

This project gives me so much freedom as I can choose whether it’s devised, text-based, applied or a whole mixture of these.

This practical project also requires a great deal of effort, time and patience.

I have to be responsible for all aspects of my performance, including technical, scenographic, marketing, audience liaison and production, as well as the acting side of things.

There will be a tiny bit of written work towards the Final Performance. 2,000 words.

Okay, it might not seem so “tiny”, but I’ve talked to some people that have to do a 10,000 word project. So, I think I have it lucky…

The writing will give me the opportunity to show and reflect on my individual research and contribution to the project. I will have to add in ideas and approaches from the theorists into an appropriate area of performance.

Whether you do an independent project or the final performance, you will be allocated a supervisor.

They will offer advice in the selection of a topic or approach appropriate for Drama and help keep your ideas realistic!

But it’s up to me to prove the ability to work independently in both researching and presenting a topic of my choice. The supervisor will offer me guidance, support, advice and commentary, when appropriate.

I’m already starting to think on what I need to start doing for next year, as I don’t want to leave it to the last minute. With whatever subject(s) you’re studying, it’s the right time to start thinking of a topic.

London for Musicians

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Back in January, the Minnesota-Duluth tribe was bussed to London for a day to spend as we saw fit. So, of course, I tried to do as much as possible.

I had a list of places I wanted to try to get to:

  • Abbey Road Studios: The Beatles famously recorded here, as well as Pink Floyd, the Alan
    Parsons Project, Edward Elgar (or Worcester fame) and many others.
  • Battersea Power Station: Featured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Animals.”
  • Denmark Street: Famous for having recording studios and venues that hosted such
    performers as Elton John, the Sex Pistols, and the Rolling Stones (I didn’t make it there, unfortunately)
  • 9 Curzon Street: Death place of Cass Elliot (of the Mamas and the Papas) and Keith Moon
    (of the Who)
  • 23 Brook Street: Residence and death place of Jimi Hendrix
  • 221B Baker Street (aka the Sherlock Holmes museum)
  • The usual suspects

It was an eclectic, ambitious, and admittedly slightly morbid list. If nothing else, I figured it would give me a good day out. And that it did! Check out my photos below.

I still can’t get over how much history and culture there is in the U.K. It might not seem like a big deal to everyone that lives here, but my inner child freaks out whenever I see another famous landmark or historic site.

What did I miss? If you liked my video, or you have a suggestion of where I else I can go on my next trip to London, leave a comment!

Opportunities at Uni – my acting role as “The creepy landlord”

At uni, a lot of  wonderful opportunities will arise!

At Worcester, you can get involved in filming projects if you study Film, Digital Media, Screenwriting. Drama or anything at all.

I arrived to uni last year studying Drama and English and joined the drama society ‘Spotlight’.

About October-ish there was a guy called Sid that came into the society telling us that he needed actors for a web series he was in the process of creating with a fellow Worcester uni graduate, Tom.

He was looking for three people in particular and had the characters in mind drawn. No joke, this was the picture!!

Expectation:

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Reality:

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The dude on the far right of the cartoon eerily resembled me. I asked who he was and he said “Kirk, the weird, creepy, stern landlord.”

I liked the description, I auditioned and I got the role as Kirk.

Having this character meant maintaining a hench bush of a beard! Why not?

Eventually, I met up with the other two and we had a read-through. One of the other actors, Sam, studies Health and Social Studies at the university and just likes acting as a hobby. To get involved with film projects you don’t have to be really arty-farty and extroverted – there’s roles for everyone and the screen production society are always looking!

Filming the series was so much fun and took a lot of commitment. No we didn’t get paid but we did have unlimited tea and Philly Noodles. Sid’s creation of Philadelphia Cream Cheese mixed with noodles © – Sounds weird, yeah, but try it!

Here is the episode – Hope you like it, there are other episodes and shorts on the channel. There should someday be an episode 4 and 5, but there’s a few editing difficulties.