Emily was inspired by her brother Matthew who studied Drama and Technical Theatre at our university.

Are you still living at home?

Yes I am, home is roughly about a 30 minute drive from the University of Cumbria Brampton Road campus.

 

What prompted you to follow Matthew to the University of Cumbria?

When Matthew was doing his Drama and Technical Theatre course at the university I went to go see a few of his shows which obviously gave me an opportunity to see the quality of the facilities. It is one of the things that made me want to do Drama and Musical Theatre. Also, I’m a bit of a home bird and I was satisfied with what the course had to offer I didn’t see the need to move away from home.

 

What are the advantages of staying local to study?

I think one of the main advantages is the money you save. I personally didn’t find it necessary to take out a student loan in 1st year because I don’t have food shopping to do, I don’t have rent to pay. Another advantage is that I have a part-time job at Tesco, so it meant that I didn’t have to find another job elsewhere in a city that I’m not familiar with.

Obviously a big advantage for me was that it meant I didn’t have to leave my family and friends either which would’ve been a big thing for me.

 

Do you know of many others doing the same thing?

I think there’s maybe 1 other person I know of on my course who is from Carlisle but the majority of people I know have moved away from home to attend the University of Cumbria.

 

Do you think more students should consider staying local?

I think it’s more of a personal preference thing really. If your local university has a course that you’re interested in and is right for you then definitely you should consider staying local because you’re already in an area that you’re familiar with, there’s already people that you know who live nearby.

I know a lot of people who moved away from home to go to university and when they first start they feel a bit like a fish out of water because they’re worrying whether they’re going to make new friends, whether they’re going to get lost in the city etc. By staying at home you save yourself a lot of that stress as well as saving a lot of money at the same time.

Do you miss out on anything?

This depends on you as a person, there’s plenty of opportunities to get involved with people who are living in student accommodation such as Fresher’s Week and things like that, it just depends how proactive you are about it.

I don’t feel like I miss out on anything really, being a student means that most of the socialising tends to involve alcohol which can sometimes make it a bit tricky for me because I have to drive 30 minutes to Carlisle if I want to join in but my Mum and Dad are amazing, they give me lifts if I’m wanting to go out.

The tutors are amazing, they’re so relaxed but they make sure that you get the best you can out of your degree. It’s completely different to being at school, it’s a much calmer environment, they just treat you with respect and you know that you can have a laugh as long as your work hard and put the effort in too.

How are you finding Drama and Musical Theatre?

It’s good so far, everyone on our course gets on well so we’ve become like a little family. We did a show in 1st year that we devised ourselves about the NHS and we’re currently working with a director on Midsummer Night’s Dream which is going to tour around different primary schools in Carlisle over the course of a few days in March.

 

Have you been involved in any shows/productions?

Yes, the above and also a piece about mental health which we actually performed at the secondary school I attended. There’s loads of opportunities to get involved in other shows though, for example in 3rd year a lot of people do originals as part of their course and the cast for them is made up of other students in the university.

What are the tutors and experiences like?

The tutors are amazing, they’re so relaxed but they make sure that you get the best you can out of your degree. It’s completely different to being at school, it’s a much calmer environment, they just treat you with respect and you know that you can have a laugh as long as your work hard and put the effort in too.

What are the best parts of studying here?

One of the big things for me is that because it’s such a small university, you’re treated like a human rather than just another number. I know people that have gone to bigger universities and just felt like they didn’t get the same focus from their lecturers because they’re just another student.

 Here, the staff and other students are so friendly you feel like an individual. If you need help from any of the lecturers they’ll always make the time to meet with you and put your mind at rest.

Another good thing is the variety of opportunities. On my course we’ve had the chance to see what it’s like to create a low budget musical which was completely self-devised, we’ve had the opportunity to work with professional choreographers and directors.

We’ve had the chance to collaborate with the community by taking our performances to different schools and venues. We can audition for a showcase in 3rd year which then goes to London to be performed on stage.

 

Any work experience stints in local schools or theatres?

I have done work experience in primary schools and a secondary school, prior to starting my degree. There are opportunities out there. The Sands Centre, which is the local venue, are always looking for members of staff to join the tech team.

 

When do you graduate?

Hopefully if everything goes well I’ll be graduating in summer next year, I’m on track to graduate so fingers crossed!

 

What are your career plans?

My career plans have changed whilst being at university which is also another reason I suggest doing a degree as it helps you experience whether it’s the right career path for you.

I also know other people who have started doing a performance degree and have then left after first year to go on to do nursing so it really does help. In October this year, I’m going to apply to do my PGCE in Primary Teaching through School Direct who work in partnership with the University of Cumbria and if all goes to plan.

 

Hobbies and Interests?

One of my biggest obsessions is Disney which I think is another factor that made me so interested in doing a performance degree, I’ve loved it ever since I was little! I also play a little bit of acoustic guitar which has helped me during my degree because all though I have very limited knowledge when it came to learning about music theory I had a little bit more understanding because I play guitar.

One tip I would give anyone who is considering doing a performance degree is that if you don’t know anything about music theory at all like me then start learning what you can now! It’ll really help you on your degree. It’s one thing I wish I’d thought more about.

I also love socialising with my friends and new people and I think that Carlisle is a great place to be to do that because it’s not a massive city - there’s loads of cosy bars, there’s a local cinema, bowling alley etc.  I also like going swimming and to the gym which is handy as you can get a student membership giving access to most of the gyms in Carlisle.

BA (Hons)

Musical Theatre

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