Christina Arnephie, a Creative Writing and English Literature BA (Hons) student spoke to us about her experience as a mature student, being part of the London Met community and what she enjoys about her course.
Why did you decide to study at London Met?
I spent at least six months doing extensive research into various universities prior to applying to London Met but after lots of research I was always drawn back to London Met due to what appeared to be a diverse community and a place where I could see others like myself, students and staff included.
Did you feel supported by the lecturers on your course?
I feel supported and validated by all of my lecturers, who are extremely committed and have raised my confidence levels. There have been times on the course when difficulties have arisen and without the continued support of my lecturers, I may not have got through the first couple of years. There have been occasions when submitting work has been impossible due to external circumstances, yet lecturers have assisted me by giving extensions and extra tutorials to help me on my way to completion and eventual submission of work.
Do you have a favourite author or literary work?
Before attending university, I did read a lot and had a handful of favourite texts and authors but my time here has opened my eyes to a world of literature that I never knew existed. As a brown woman, in educational environments, I had really only experienced texts penned primarily by white writers and literature that really was quite unrelatable. The Creative Writing and English Literature team are doing a fantastic job of decolonising the curriculum. I have had access to texts and authors of colour that I can relate to and this is encouraging for me as a writer, as I have been given the creative freedom to write about what I truly know and understand. For this I am very grateful. There are several authors I like including Bernardine Evaristo, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jay Bernard, Umberto Eco and Chaim Potok, to name a few.
What inspired you to study creative writing at university?
I have always written in some form or other over the years and this included personal journals, short stories and, as a young adult, script writing, as I did a lot of community theatre work. As I grew older I fell into work that removed me from creative spaces, doing the mundane 9-5 jobs to pay the bills. But it was the birth of my son when I was 40 years old that completely changed my perspective on life. Being an older mother made me realise that it is never too late to follow your dreams and I always knew that literature and writing is where I could fulfill these dreams. It is one of the best decisions I have made and has drastically changed my life in such a positive way.
Do you work on any personal projects alongside your studies or have you done any work experience while studying?
I was already working part time when I started university, and still do. I work within the veterinary field which is completely unrelated to my course. But I do write for myself and this could be about anything personal or just documenting observations, everyday life or quotes. I may hear small snippets of conversations for example and will jot them down in case they are useful at some point in the future.
What has been your favourite project or piece of work you’ve done so far in your degree?
It is quite difficult to pin down a particular piece of work or project but I guess the Writing and Editing Fiction and Non-Fiction module. I really enjoyed the work we did in this module, in particular Creative Non-Fiction and its genres of memoir, nature writing and travel. I wrote a creative piece which allowed for a lot of creative freedom.
Do you have a favourite place in London?
I have spent my entire life in London and my favourite places involve nature. Tottenham Marshes where the River Lea flows has been a place where I have found much comfort and peace. I have often fished there and taken walks. It is abundant with wildlife and although located in a busy part of London, it feels more akin to the countryside which is great inspiration for someone who is a writer in London.
Why did you pick London Met and particularly your course over other institutions and courses?
Studying at London Met has been extremely helpful, not just because of its location (it's close to where I live), but because of its openness in welcoming students such as myself. London Met is a diverse community and has exceptional student support. It is a community I’m proud to be a part of with successful alumni who have gone on to succeed in their chosen careers. I did consider other universities but they just didn't appeal to me as I wanted to see other students like myself and that is what London Met could offer above all else.
What was the most challenging or interesting idea you've come across so far on your degree?
There have been many challenging and interesting ideas that have come up but I guess for me it would be that as writers we can contribute and influence change via our work.
Any tips for new students who might be thinking about studying Creative Writing and English Literature at university?
As a mature student, I believed my time had passed, that studying at a higher education level was for younger people and something I could not achieve. It’s achievable and it’s not just for the privileged. I won't sugar coat it as it’s not easy, but it's something that has completely changed my life in so many ways, given me confidence, seen me acquire new skills and has opened my mind to another world that I will hold close forever. Believe me, it’s achievable and all the more special having come from an underprivileged background, where opportunities were never presented to me – all I thought I would do is work in low income jobs to just pay the bills. I strongly believe now that my future will be so much more enriched in so many ways.
If you are going to apply to study Creative Writing and English Literature be prepared to read read read and write daily as this is what will increase your confidence and understanding in lectures and generally with your studies. Another key aspect is networking, this is so important in the field of writing. Network with others that have been or are going through a similar process. We have been honoured as students to work alongside lecturers who are established writers. We have also had the experiences of having guests who are actively working within the industry and have given us valuable insights and advice of current industry practices. This has been an additional asset to the course which has assisted me immensely with my studies.
Do you know what you’d like to do in the future or which career path you’d like to take?
This course will give me many opportunities for the future. The areas I am interested in are becoming a writer, publishing and teaching younger generations in the hope that I can inspire other young people in a similar way to how I have been inspired by my own lecturers.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at London Met that isn’t covered above?
London Met cares about its students and goes above and beyond to ensure the student experience is valued at every level. I have had tremendous support from my lecturers and student services who are always willing to assist no matter what.
Due to the pandemic, my studies have changed to being online but this has not changed the input the lecturers give. It is a different experience but no less value can be given as lecturers continue to put just as much work (if not more) to ensure we continue to receive the student experience we signed up for. London Met across the board has done an amazing job in managing the impact of the pandemic and the transition to online learning.