I've just been offered a £1000 scholarship at the University of Kent! :D :D :D I am so pleased!!!
I had to apply for it by sending them a portfolio of experiment reports, but I really didn't think I was going to get it. I'm so so glad that I did!
I was worrying which university I was going to put down as my first choice, but now I don't think there's any question ;) This definitely makes my university decision easier. And now I can afford the really good accommodation!
Ok, I did not technically visit Hogwarts, but it was a very Hogwarts-y place. I've just got back from visiting University College at Durham University, which is nicknamed 'The Castle'. Why? Because it is literally a castle. I got to stay overnight in a room in the keep and it was absolutely amazing - I spent a night living in what was once the Prince Bishop's palace! The room itself wasn't anything special (actually, there were cracks in the walls and it needed re-carpeting) but when I looked out of the window and saw a courtyard that was rather cool.
There was also a formal dinner in the Great Hall on Saturday evening, and that was especially like being at Hogwarts. All the tables were set out in rows like the houses, but slightly less like Hogwarts there were loads of old paintings and civil war armour on the walls (which, as a re-enactor, pleased me immensely ). It still had that Harry Potter vibe though - it just needed for the ceiling to be transparent when you looked up. When the master of the college gave a speech before the meal it felt a little bit like being addressed by Dumbledore - the guy was even wearing robes and had white hair (but no beard, unfortunately).
One thing Hogwarts doesn't have though is a bar. The bar in question though still reminded me of the Leaky Cauldron - very old, with wooden beams in the ceilings, brick arches and no natural lighting because it was underground. Very atmospheric, even though bars aren't generally my thing. I didn't spend too much time in there before I went to have a look round the castle in the dark - that was even more awesome, particularly the underground Norman Chapel. I also went out onto Palace Green to see the Cathedral when it was lit up at night, and it was absolutely stunning. There were also no clouds and only one street lamp, so I had a great view of the stars that night, which was a great thing for an astronomy enthusiast like me. On another Harry Potter note, I also went to look round the Cathedral's cloisters the next day which were used for filming parts of the fourth Harry Potter movie.
The next day overall though was a lot less Harry Potter-y, since I went to look round the physics department which was very modern and sciency. I got to have a look at a Bose-Einstein condensate soliton experiment, which really interested me as they're trying to take photographs of quantum effects and that in particular is the kind of physics I want to study. I also got to play around freezing things with liquid nitrogen and making superconductor train tracks, which was all kinds of fun. Also, I had a first year taster class in projectiles which was surprisingly better than expected, as I found firing ball bearings across a room from a spring loaded cannon rather satisfying. Then there was a lecture on the Big Bang which I really enjoyed, even though there wasn't much in it that was new to me.
And then after that I had a rather long trek back down the hill to go and look round Durham city centre for a bit, before going back to the train station. My feet really hate me now. I cannot believe how much walking up and down hills I ended up doing, and I was wearing completely the wrong shoes for it. I had such a great weekend though so I'm not really bothered.
The only problem now is deciding which is going to be my first choice university - Kent, Imperial and Durham are all really strong contenders, and I've only got a month to make my mind up. I've been to all the open days now, so that's left me with a lot to consider. I've got a lot of thinking to be doing over the next few weeks...