Events at college are numerous and vastly different: from academic talks, brunches and movie screenings, to theme parties and barbeques – the college has a little something for everyone. If there is one thing that everybody can agree on, though, it is that the formal at Ustinov is THE ticket to get. But is it really worth the hype and what are some of the things that could be improved on?
Firstly, to say students were annoyed with the ticket booking system for the Ustinov formals is an understatement. The recent change from standing in line to online booking helped accommodate many who didn’t live in college and didn’t have the opportunity to lurk around the selling points until the ticket frenzy begins. Unfortunately, even the new arrangement isn’t without its flaws. Much like with the old ticket sales system, timing is everything and those who didn’t receive the email at exactly 18:00 for this year’s Christmas formal, didn’t stand much of a chance to get tickets. One student thought the new online booking system was fairer, but the process was still, “A joke!”. She suggested, “Maybe there should be a limit on how many formals one person can sign up for in a year, (…) (and if there are still space then you can book).”
The booking system is just one of the two part ‘formal issue’. Numerous students have complained about the three course meal’s portion size and quality, but also the service. One student who attended the Bonfire formal said, “Basically the portions were small, but what pissed me off was that they didn’t give me my soup because I was late, although I paid 15 pounds. And when I asked a lady who was working there about it, she was rude (…) I will never go to a formal again.”
My personal experience at a Ustinov formal was at Christmas. I found that the food at the Christmas dinner was nice, though I’m still undecided about the Christmas pudding which apparently Brits don’t even enjoy (or so I was told). I appreciated the decorations and planning done by the social secretary and those who helped. Organizing and putting together each formal’s theme so students can enjoy it takes a lot more work than it seems. I also appreciated the choir for being interactive and encouraging tables to sing parts of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” That being said, I found that formal at Ustinov was literally a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. I came, I saw, I ate, and I am underwhelmed by the hype. I do not have the urge go to another Ustinov formal unless a group of my friends wants to. If you want to have a fancy meal, go into town. If you want to get together with friends, meet in someone’s kitchen. That was my overall feel about it.
What I would say though, is that if you’re here at Ustinov for one year – do go to a formal, especially with some friends. Don’t expect much and simply see it as a nice dress up dinner. It’s a fun experience to share with others over drinks, food, and a cozy atmosphere. If you have already gone to at least two formals so far, give others who haven’t gone, but want to, an opportunity to purchase tickets. There are other things you can do on a Friday night. Organize your own dinner party and go to the party afterwards. One student who enjoyed the formal said, “Though it was nice to attend, I don’t really understand the point of formals. It’s meant to be social, but it’s not really a social event. You only end up talking to people who are at your table.”
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