Bermo Does University Part 1: Making Friends

Freshers’ week is a national con. As your parents abandon you to one of our country’s great institutions (and quite probably not so great halls of residence) it’s hard not to feel betrayed. You’re not ready for this! Sitting in your teeny weeny room wondering if one string of fairy lights is quite enough to compensate for the bottle green carpet (hides all manner of misbehaviour), you also begin to wonder if the fig rolls your grandma bequeathed will last until the Christmas holidays. They’re gonna need to, as you are never coming out.

2016.03.02 Abandonment

Trigger warning

My saviour to this brown-trousered experience was Imogen. My mother, having deposited me in Lady Mountford’s D Block, was finding the courage for the metaphorical push from the nest, when there was a neat little knock at my door. Stood outside it was a neat girl, all 5 feet of her, peppy, confident, and inviting me to dinner. THIS WAS MY IN. My mum is manically grinning behind the door as I try not to look like someone just chucked a lifebelt at me. The quickest goodbyes are the best. Abrupt and over in a second, there is no possibility of not being profound enough for the moment. As a helpful by-product, anything particularly touching can be drafted and edited in a beautifully put text, with kisses and love heart emojis for emphasis. My mother and I exchanged about 40 texts before I went to bed that night.

I wish I could remember what I wore on my first day. Not because I find my fashion history interesting, but because I’m dying to remember what I wanted people to think about me.

Cue the longest two hours of my life. A gaggle, a gaggle of girls met in the corridor. There were 12 of us, and I am pretty sure I can remember all the answers to the questions that my 18 year-old self thought were the kinds of things one ought to ask in this situation. ‘What A Levels did you do?’ – Riveting.

2016.03.02 Questions

The ice broken, I quickly identified a chatty, fellow Yorkshire kinswoman who seemed so at ease with herself and everyone else (she had the brass to take a nap before dinner on the first day, asking a stranger to wake her up in time) and decided she should be my friend. The aforementioned Imogen also strode into poll position once I’d found out she was taking French too, she was also next door to me.

2011 Ellie & Imogen

Friend: check!

Rosie and Mary-Kate weren’t really my friends at first. Even though I knew that Mary-Kate had 3 siblings and was from Wigan and a Catholic school and that her mum was a diabetic nurse, and even though I knew that Rosie did Food Tech A Level (a qualification for which I would thank God at a later date) played netball and her sister’s boyfriend was in a band and that her dad owned a textile machinery company. I cringe to think of the information about myself that I foregrounded.

I had made it, my first gyaldem at university. All that was left to encounter was campus, classes and that previously unknown entity… boys.

Sweet Democracy

Although saddened my gang did not glide into power and even more upset about Lib Dems like Vincey Baby and Special Charlie K – I delighted in my participation in lovely democracy last week.   


Love Letter To Team Berry

Berry Academy of Dance

I am the proof that even if you’re not good at dancing – there’s appreciation for all talents here at the Sharon Berry School of Theatre Dance. Just kidding – I wasn’t that bad, in fact my last exam was Intermediate Modern Jazz and earned me a very respectable 87 marks… my Ballet and Tap grades tell a very different story!

I began my glorious performing arts career in 1998, after sitting in the audience at All Around The World, watching my bosom pal, Charlotte Beresford, tearing up the stage as Po. It was there, gazing at my Teletubbied-chum that I decided I too wished to strut around in leotards and white and brown eye shadow for all the S5 and S6 community to see. That September, aged 5, I arrived at Malin Bridge’s glamorous nursery terrapin, and launched one of the most expensive and rewarding hobbies my mum…

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Getting Hands On: La Voce del Corpo film viewing and workshop with Luca Vullo

Modern Languages and Cultures

Final year student of Italian, Eleanor Bermingham, writes about the workshop and film screening she attended

Lovers of Italian culture, both undergraduates and pensioners alike, enjoyed a very hands-on session (emphasis on hands) where we learned how to insult, beg and be amorous to our friends without a single word – alla siciliana!

The Italian department organised this event with special guest Luca Vullo – Italian filmmaker and director of ‘La Voce del Corpo’ (The Voice of the Body). After some light refreshments (NB. Italian refreshments are rarely light and this was not one of those occasions) we were treated to a half-hour screening of Luca’s film, an entertaining and educational film about hand gestures in Sicily.

la voce

The session was very much like the film: we learned loads about the language of the body (both Italian and English), and with Luca’s warm and effervescent personality we were having a laugh…

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Consent: Not actually that complicated

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

A short one today as my life is currently very complicated and conspiring against my preference to spend all of my days working out what to blog. But do you know what isn’t complicated?


It’s been much discussed recently; what with college campuses bringing in Affirmative Consent rules, and with the film of the book that managed to make lack of consent look sexy raking it in at the box office. You may not know this, but in the UK we more or less have something similar to ‘affirmative consent’ already. It’s how Ched Evans was convicted while his co-defendant was not – and is along the lines of whether the defendant had a reasonable belief that the alleged victim consented. From the court documents it appears that while the jury felt that it was reasonable to believe that the victim had consented to intercourse with the co-defendant, it…

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Why choose Italian? For the (slow) food, of course

Modern Languages and Cultures

Thinking of studying Italian? Take a look at this video featuring one of our finalists, Eleanor Bermingham. She and other students and graduates explain why Italian is the language for them and how they got the most from their year abroad.

Here’s what she had to say about her time in Italy.

E BerminghamI was an intern at an organisation called Slow Food, whose aims, as you might imagine from the name, are to slow down the increasing industrialisation of our agriculture and to fight the presence of fast food as a staple in our daily lives. The organisation is based in Bra (always fun to explain), Piedmont, just an hour south of Turin, where its founder, Carlo Petrini, grew up, and where Slow Food has its international and Italian headquarters, as well as its publishing and promotions offices. Globally, Slow Food is present in over 150 countries, and is a…

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La vita slow

“Spinach is my favourite kind of winter vegetable.” – FILED. Under Things you can only hear at Slow Food

I now work at Slow Food, an international food movement which promotes “good, clean and fair” food. The HQ holds court in a small town called Bra (an uplifting place), in Piedmont, northern Italy. Just one hour from Turin with a horizon straddled by the beautiful Alps, Bra is a town of 30,000 inhabitants, around 150 of whom are employed by Slow Food. After one week here you know/recognise everyone in the Slow Food / University (University of Gastronomic Sciences- UniSG, set up by SF) in the bubble, and they know/recognise you as the English girl who eats McDonald’s and drinks a lot (I don’t know what could have possibly given them that impression).

The ladieez and myself at Superga

The ladieez and myself at Superga

There is an army of women in the Communications office, diversified by only one male, Francesco, who clearly has so much womb envy he’s growing his hair to be female in spirit. Francesco is also a member of the Party Table and honourary member of Brit Corner with Kate and myself. We talk about Kate Bush, drink tea (for this I also have Sharon, who appreciates a proper brew) and despair and giggle in general about odd Italian life.

My job is a bit of a mix. I do translations a lot from Italian into English which end up appearing on the Slow Food website, publications and dastardly plans et al. Right now SF has this key project called 10,000 Gardens in Africa, setting up community and school gardens so that people can be self-sufficient and grow organic food. All good so far. HOWEVER. Each of these gardens has a description which appears on the website and guess who gets to translate all these? That’s right, little old me. I think I am reaching full knowledge capacity on organic gardening without ever having picked up a trowel.

I also work on the Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN) with the previously mentioned Francesco doing bits and bobs from sorting out the social media to coming up with cheesy puns and slowgans (geddit?), a few of my proudest brain children are Smells like SFYN spirit and one that’s actually being used for a Disco Macedonia event, fruit a-peeling against food waste. Che poetessa.

Disco Macedonia

Disco Macedonia


I wasn’t immediately overwhelmed by the nightlife of Bra but it’s winning me over, moreover, the people in Bra are making it worth my while. Whether it’s an evening at Boglione (the focal point of all Bra life) celebrating a colleague getting married or a day trip to Turin and riding on a funicular train, I’m pretty entertained.


The family Bermo joined me in Italy for my 21st birthday two weeks ago, and the week deserves its own blog post. It suffices to say that I was on extreme detox after 7 days of continuous wine drinking. Even G Unit (my grandmother) was on the sambuca!

Family portrait

Family portrait 

Anyway that’s all I’m saying for now, gotta go pack, I’m off to Milano this weekend with JoyBerm!