Espresso & Essays: Kicking off A New Summer Series


“Staying in Southampton for the summer is super cool. Change my mind.” That’s what this blog should really be called, except it’s a bit too wordy and controversial for one poor headline. So, I called it ‘Espresso & Essays’ to reflect the two defining characteristics of my life, and to try (and fail) at sounding cute and aesthetically pleasing.

So, now that I’ve annoyed you into reading more… hi! I’m Alyssa-Caroline—yes, I have the most pretentious name possible—and, yes, I’m staying in Southampton for the summer. Technically, I have to, because I’m an international student and it’s part of my visa requirements, but I actually really want to. I do have a lot of good reasons for that, but I’m not ruling out the possibility that it could mostly be because I’m American, which means I’m really excited about pretty much every part of living in the UK (and before you ask why Americans are so crazy about the UK, I have no idea. We just really, really are). I’m also doing my dissertation over the summer, and believe it or not, I’m really excited about that too!

So, why on earth is anybody letting me blog about this? Honestly, it’s all because I want to help, and because studying through the summer is a big topic right now. Whether it’s our new pre-sessional students who are arriving in Southampton for the very first time, preparing to make our university their new home, or post-grads like me who are writing their dissertations right now, how to survive the summer, and have fun doing it, is on a lot of people’s minds. That’s why I want to use my summer study experience, plus what I’ve learned from my time as an international student, to connect with others who are in the same boat right now. So, this summer, I’ll be doing a blog or two a week, offering tips for study strategies, self-care, transitioning to a new country and finding a way to blend academics and fun!

My hope is that writing about my experience will invite conversation among students, encouraging everyone to talk to each other, and to me, about the joys and struggles we face while we’re writing, studying, and building new lives. So, I thought I’d use this first post to introduce myself a bit before I start throwing advice at people.

Who I Am:

I’m a first-year postgrad currently pursuing an MA in Victorian Literature with a concentration in Gender Studies. And despite how much people often think essays are boring, I’m actually really in love with my dissertation. That’s because I’m doing it on American Horror Story: Coven and the representation of female villains as seen in Delphine La Laurie. So, yeah, I’m a nerd, but at least I’m a… cool nerd? My interests include cocktails, intersectional feminism, constant Brooklyn Nine Nine references, and gender equality.

Why I’m at Southampton:

I chose Southampton because I wanted to be challenged. I knew I wanted to do my MA somewhere in the UK, but I chose Southampton because I liked their reputation for academic excellence, and also because I thought I’d be close to a beach. I didn’t expect to find a home. I was hoping that postgrad would allow me to recover from the nervous breakdown that was my time in undergrad, to strengthen and grow as an academic, and to learn more about who I am. I never expected my time here to be so much more. Here at Southampton, I feel like I’ve learned how to be happy again. I’ve learned to be proud of myself again, and a lot of those proud moments are connected to achievements like moving to a new country and actually building a life here, which I still can’t believe I’ve done.

But I think those types of steps, and really, uni as a whole, sit on such a fine line between success and destruction, between thriving and losing your mind. The defining difference lies in the experience, and having the right tools and people to make that experience positive for you. That’s what my time at Southampton has been, and if there’s any way that my voice can help create a good experience for others, that’s what I want to do.

So, that’s what ‘Espresso & Essays’ is all about, and I look forward to learning and growing with all of you.

More articles in Espresso & Essays
  1. Espresso & Essays: Kicking off A New Summer Series
  2. Espresso & Essays: How to Manage Your Time

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