Humanities & Social Sciences placements

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Topic: 2015-16

Year Abroad: 5 Unusual Ways to Practice your Language

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📥  2015-16, 2016-17, International Management & Modern Languages, Politics, Languages & International Studies


As a languages student, the highest priority for your Year Abroad is to improve your language skills – this goes without saying. But ask any student who is currently away, or has completed their placement, and they will tell you it’s not always that easy. Your Year Abroad will not comprise of steady and neat improvements in your abilities, but rather little leaps and starts of understanding, which will be oh-so rewarding, but utterly frustrating.

You will, of course, have the immediate spike in knowledge when you initially move abroad; living and working in a foreign language all day will leave you exhausted but amazed at your own ability to pluck words from nowhere: you’re a natural, you’re fluent! Unfortunately, this will often wear off after the first few months, once you have mastered the complexities of the supermarket and your nearest café. You may even be dismayed to find that after just a week or two at home for Christmas you’ve forgotten some of the fancy idiomatic phrases which you were using with such confidence in November. Speaking from personal experience, your language acquisition – and with it your confidence – can go a little bit like this:


But do not fear! Here are 5 unusual ways to practice your languages, if you ever find yourself struggling to work enough Dutch into your day or Español into your evenings!

  1. BlaBla Car (or similar company). I would encourage any Year Abroad student to travel and explore as much as physically possible and a great cheap way of doing so is by using a company like BlaBla Car. BlaBla Car matches people who are taking a certain journey in a car with those who need to travel but have no car – an efficient way to save money on tickets and on petrol! Using BlaBla Car in a foreign language will guarantee you with quality language practice on any number of topics, from the reason for your trip to the political state of the country – trust me! It has the handy benefit of putting you next to the driver rather than opposite, which can take the pressure off! Bear in mind that while BlaBla Car is more commonplace in Europe, you should still be aware of the risks of getting into someone else’s car – make sure you use the code provided to find the right driver, tell someone where you are going, and keep friends as updated as possible.
  2. Theatre. The theatre might not be your cup of tea at home, but it is an excellent way to catch up on the nuances and stresses of your new language. If you can keep up with Shakespeare in Italian, you’re ready for anything! There is also something distinctly fascinating about telling your friends from home that you are off to the theatre for the evening! Grab a friend – native or otherwise – and get two front row seats! You won’t regret it.
  3. Trains. Similar to BlaBla Car but more spontaneous, you will be amazed at the number of strange conversations that can spring up on a train journey. I, for example, had the delightful experience of sharing an overnight carriage with an Italian family, their dog, and a drunk man. The inebriated Italian spent most of the night telling me what a “bella donna” I was, whilst the family quizzed me on everything from why I was travelling alone, to how the police force works in England (I was not too helpful). When travelling by train, either alone or with friends, make sure you keep an eye on all your belongings, to avoid being the victim of an opportunistic crime. To be on the safe side, check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice on what to do if you’re the victim of a crime abroad before you travel.
  4. Gym. This may come as a surprise, as my experiences of English gyms have never involved making a best friend. However, joining a gym on your Year Abroad is the perfect way to keep busy and meet the locals. For a start, many people have routines, and you are likely to see the same faces each time you arrive. Secondly, gym lessons such as yoga, Zumba and boxing are all great ways to interact with new people and potentially bond over your lack of coordination.
  5. Café local. This is something you should do anyway, but it’s also great for improving your chit-chat. Find yourself a nice sunny café, with the widest selection of cakes and coffees possible, and make yourself at home! I would recommend bringing a book or some work to do, but don’t be afraid to dive in and get chatting to your friendly barista. You might feel awkward at first, but nothing will beat the feeling a few weeks down the line of being warmly greeted as a regular and handed your ‘usual’ drink of choice. Do be careful when you’re out and about on your own, especially if you’re a woman travelling alone – again the FCO has some great advice you should look over.

Whatever you decide to do, you won’t regret taking a chance and trying something new! Do plenty of research on your destination here before you go, not only to find the best sightseeing tips, but also to make sure you’re familiar enough with the customs and culture so that you don’t offend anyone – not a good way to make friends! Make sure you keep safe and sensible, and follow @FCOTravel on Twitter for all your latest updates.


“Although of course you end up becoming yourself”*


📥  2015-16, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Every day now the end of my journey looks closer and closer, and I’ll have to start saying my good-byes soon. My first farewell though is to my readers, as it is time for a wrap up of this diary and a conclusion for this story.

It has been a quite amazing year, for the best and for the worst.

On the dark side, I should be honest and say I have probably never cried so much in my life. Especially at winter time, I got very sick of my job and tired of not seeing many friendly faces around. I got really depressed with loneliness and missed my life back in Bath as much as England misses having a decent football team. Probably didn’t help my boyfriend was on the other side of the world either.

Placement years can be quite challenging because of the emotional and psychological pressure of adapting to a new life style, and for all the nostalgia of university life. The word “nostalgia” actually comes from that wonderfully poetic language that is Ancient Greek, “algos” (=pain) + “nostos” (=return, homecoming). Ulysses was nostalgic of Ithaca because he desperately wanted to go back home, so much he almost felt physically sick. From my experience and from talking with my friends, it seems a lot of us got ill with the wish to return to university this year.

But I do believe people should hold on and don’t let the feeling of missing take the upper-hand. Things do improve. And indeed, life got much better eventually. I made great friends that will stay for life. I lived the Spanish way, with its chilled attitude based on relishing life in all its forms: from food and drinks to love and friendship to street life, with its music, dances and protests. I enjoyed the beach and the wine, and I loved finally not being the only one talking too loud and with my hands. I discovered I could write a blog that people apparently are interested in reading. And I’ve got confident enough in Spanish to do the major part of the research for my dissertation speaking the language with natives.



Happy People!

Things indeed got so much better that I will come to miss them: for example, the sense of camaraderie in the office. I felt it more than ever last Friday at the usual work breakfast. The dismay everyone had on their faces for the Brexit turned into smiles, as we all consoled and tried to cheer each other up.

As I said before, because the office is so small it really facilitates intimacy, cheerfulness, and a sense of “I’ve got your back”. Never could I have imagined the arguments on politics with my boss, the surprise parties, or the Christmas chants we would have had together.




I am pretty satisfied with my life now, if it wasn’t for the melting summer temperature. Some days, with the sun shining up in the blue sky and a gentle breeze carrying the smell of jasmine, it really feels like heaven isn’t far away.

And still, I am happy to go back to Bath soon.

So, what is the morale?

I am convinced more than ever that a placement year is an incredibly valuable opportunity. Even if the risk of ending up with dull tasks for months are quite high, is still really valuable to get some hands on experience and just learn how things work in the workplace (no bad pun intended). For example, I have often been told I have a “bronze face”, meaning I too often speak my mind when I shouldn’t. I learnt the importance of diplomacy and of controlling the need to express your thoughts at all costs, and how my more feisty side can be moderated without necessarily meaning a loss of authenticity.
The whole year has been a series of life lessons I will bring on in every future job and interview.

I would recommend anyone that had the chance to do so to go abroad. Not only for discovering new cultures and ways of living, meeting new people and integrating in a new society, without even starting going on about the usefulness of learning a new language. But also, I feel being abroad would prevent the stress related to not feeling you are using your potential in your job, as the whole experience would give you meaning and satisfaction.

Finally, I do need to act a bit pretentiously and talk of the “journey of self-discovery”. On one of those more depressed days I was reading the great Andalusian poet Federico Garcia Lorca, and one of his verses stuck in my head: “Pero yo ya no soy yo, ni mi casa es mi casa” (but I’m not myself anymore, nor my home is my home).

I feel this year changed me in ways I can’t yet quite underpin, but that I definitely recognize in so far as I am not the same person who arrived here at the start of September. The whole experience opened me up, teared me apart and then repositioned my pieces, so that I feel like a Picasso painting (accidentally, he was born in Malaga!). I would need the clarity of time and distance to be able to reconstruct the picture in a way that makes sense to me.

I didn’t want this post to be heavy so I better conclude, although I feel I have so many more thoughts, just too meddled to be put down on paper clearly. The whole experience has been chaotically beautiful, and if I had the chance, I’d do it all again.

Thank you everyone for reading my posts throughout the year, it has been a pleasure to write for you.

*Unfortunately I didn’t come up with such a brilliant title myself; it is taken from a book by David Lipsky (“Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace”).


“You have been, you are, and you will always be my most beautiful chance"

“You have been, you are, and you will always be my most beautiful chance"


The sails aren’t hoisted yet, but soon it will be time to raise the anchor

The sails aren’t hoisted yet, but soon it will be time to raise the anchor



The Daily Struggle

📥  2015-16, Politics, Languages & International Studies

For those doing placement next year, I want to give an insight to an average day at Lawyers for Human Rights. Perhaps some may want to apply themselves next year.
Lawyers for Human Rights is “an independent human rights organisation with a 35-year track record of human rights activism and public interest litigation in South Africa. LHR uses the law as a positive instrument for change and to deepen the democratisation of South African society. To this end, it provides free legal services to vulnerable, marginalised and indigent individuals and communities, both non-national and South African, who are victims of unlawful infringements of their constitutional rights.” The clinic where I work deals specifically with the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.


Discussing with colleagues!

Here the day starts at about half past eight. Coffee - extremely strong - is waiting; even on the days which require the least endurance, the coffee is non negotiable. With greetings exchanged in a number of languages, the work is immediate. To fuel me for the day, I have invariably loaded up with a breakfast of ‘Future-life’, a sort of thick high nutrient porridge substance developed for those with AIDS, now sold commercially. It is more appetising than it sounds.

Our work!

Our work!

The system at LHR is that clients approach the clinic directly with the legal problems they have. An 'on call' attorney or intern of sorts puts them onto an intake list. We take in about twelve clients a day and it's the job of each intern to be the intake advisor at least once a week. This intake process is the most difficult but most interesting part of the job as it involves sustained interaction with clients.
Before anything, the clients are screened. If it is my intake day, I call each one up and quickly ascertain the nature of their problem. Is it to do with healthcare, documentation, education etc? If we cannot help - for example if they have come with a criminal matter - we refer them to another organisation. Usefully we have partner organisations immediately next door. One provides broader legal advice, another assists refugees with social assistance like food and rent. This is the benefit of being situated in a 'Democracy Centre' where a number of NGOs and legal and humanitarian organisations work alongside eachother.
Whenever the 'screening' is finished, the long slog of consulting begins, lasting from about 9am to 1pm but on occasion longer. Each client is called one by one into a private consultation room and the full details of their problem is discussed and uploaded to our electronic system, along with a copy of their documents. Contact details are taken and follow up appointments are made. There is the joint pressure off needing to pay keen attention to detail, but also a desire not to keep those in the waiting room for an unnecessarily long time. Waiting and being treated like your time is not valuable is a substantial part of an asylum seeker’s life, and we try not to contribute unduly to that pattern of disrespect.

In the clinic waiting room!

In the clinic waiting room!

In the consult rooms we deal with a wide variety problems. For example routine issues with documentation like expired permits, or clients wanting to return to their country of origin. Many of our clients have been rejected as asylum seekers and require our help representing them before the Refugee Appeal Board. Often to provide assistance we need the full details of an asylum seeker’s claim to status. Accordingly in the consultation room we hear many unforgettable and humbling accounts of suffering, courage and resilience. This makes it all the more frustrating when nothing can be done. Many clients for example have been victims of sustained xenophobic violence, and have been not been helped because certain branches of the police could care less. There is little we can do about this and we have to say so.
The job involves a lot of figurative running about, looking for documents, files, legislation and translators. Ideally the organised chaos crescendos just before lunch time, leading into an hour of repose. Unfortunately eating is often rushed in the face of lingering clients. On the better days it is a much needed space to share frustrations, anger, humour, advice and friendship with colleagues. The food is also remarkable, prepared in our 'Democracy Cafe'.


Legal training with Somalian community leaders

Legal training with Somalian community leaders!

In the afternoon there is office work. Preparing letters, affidavits, applications to court, appeal arguments, research and doing follow up consultations with clients already on the system. Staying on top of the paper work and deciding what is urgent when can be overwhelming. It is always tempting to work home and sometimes necessary, but I found that in this job rest and meditation were important allies of hardiness and determination.
By five o clock, a number of e-mails have been sent and phone calls made. On occasion this is when we see results of our work and there is a spark of job satisfaction. Thanks to your work, a client has been given the healthcare they’re entitled to, or an official has agreed to reissue a permit. There is often disappointment as well. An appeal you prepared has been rejected. A client comes in on the verge of tears, because the letter you prepared for them has been thrown in their face by yet another despotic security guard. More strong coffee is usually warranted at this stage.

Attending protests!

Attending protests!


Of course not every day is centred at the office. There are numerous training days and necessary excursions. I have consulted at immigration detention centres where clients - often including children - are being kept illegally prior to deportation. We also give community trainings, consulting and explaining the rights that refugees have in communities which are at an inaccessible distance from our offices . We ourselves have to be trained as well. I’ve received instruction on topics like the effect of sexual violence and trauma on event recollection, or on statelessness (where an individual is not formally recognised as the national of any country). Variety is the spice of life as they say, and these little diversions are what makes the job truly interesting.


A guide to the anxious person's first day!

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📥  2015-16, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Do you ever stay awake at night, looking at the ceiling, with a deep sense of anxiety deep inside you don’t really know where it comes from but you can’t chase away?



For me that is quite regular. I am a pretty anxious person, and the deepest subconscious fear of being inadequate and out of place reveals itself in a myriad of other smaller, less ferocious but just as biting fears.

Before my first day of work, they expressed themselves in three main ghosts haunting me:

First of all, there was the fear of the Great Unknown: the first day itself, and not knowing what to expect from it. It mainly manifested in an anxiety of what I would have to look like to result acceptable and possibly giving a good first impression to all these new people I would have had to meet.

The day before starting I went for a round of shops trying to find the perfect outfit for smart casual (which may truly be the expression I hate the most in the whole English language), not too formal nor too casual, completely desperate and lost and basically feeling like I was an awkward teenager in high school again. Deciding how to wear makeup and my hair was just slightly better. (I'd expect this is mainly a female fear, given by the context of a society which sets impossible, contradictory standards.)

The second one is closely related, and it derives from getting to know and wanting to be liked by all these strangers. I am not terribly good with small talks and I am generally quite shy with people I’ve just met, so I was really afraid of resulting cold and not witty enough.

While the first two are around the same old question that I asked myself pretty much since I developed a conscience of the self, "Will they like me?", the third one is probably the most irrational: ”What if I don't know what the heck I'm doing? What if they thought I'm a completely different person when they interviewed me? What if, after all, I'm really just not qualified?”

Someone recently told me that this is actually not the normal way to react to things, I was shocked!

Someone recently told me that this is actually not the normal way to react to things, I was shocked!

These fears are actually quite easy to dismiss with logical arguments: even if the first day you completely mess up, it's not a tragedy. They'd probably find it just funny and endearing, and chances are that if they had interns they have seen all of it before. In any case, unless you mix up flip-flops and a Valentino pencil gown it can't go excessively bad. They are also used to new interns being shy, giving how intimidating a new environment is, and in many cases the first really professional ever experienced.

And finally, you are there for a reason. They hired you after a hard screening. They saw in you something that convinced them. That is a fact beyond paranoia and low self-esteem, and which is always worth remembering.

There is one final fear that I had when being offered the job: what if I’m gonna bore myself to death? Even before accepting, I knew Public Relations wasn’t my path in life, and I was really anxious I would have ended up hating what I had to do.

So how did that go? Well, some days are in fact extremely heavy and quite boring, and time never seems to go by. Sometimes it takes 3 coffees just to get to the end of the day, and with each I wish there was a cigarette included. But other days are quite fun, and there are times I really enjoy what I am doing, for example when I get to write or translate something interesting or I have a good idea for a nice design. Basically, I am satisfied with my job whenever I feel I learned something, or it had an impact on my abilities and I was able to show what I can do.

To someone that had the same fear of being bored for a year of their lives, I would say that eventually you start enjoying the smaller things, getting satisfaction in the details; maybe it’s a brain self defense mechanism, but it is quite effective. As well, there is life beyond work, and there are few things more pleasant than a cold beer and a good rant with friends at the end of a particularly tiring day: the lowest point means you enjoy the peak even more. In the end: you will survive.

You can always count on wine for some support!

And you can always count on wine for some support!


Rejoignez une Alliance!

📥  2015-16, Politics, Languages & International Studies

South Africa is a famously multilingual nation. It has eleven official languages, so usually you converse with others in their second or even third tongue. This makes you ever and painfully conscious of your status as a monoglottic imbecile. Especially when watching your colleagues struggle to comprehend the flattened droning of Mid Ulster English.


This has been even more noticeable in my work, where I consult with clients from across the Africa. Whilst working here I have heard many languages for the first time, Tigrinya or Amharic having never passed through my virgin eardrum. I have one extremely impressive colleague who can speak over seven languages, which in the South African context is only somewhat impressive. By contrast I am reminded of Northern Ireland’s more limited linguistic palette, where what contrived multilingualism we have is tainted by public representatives’ tiresome abuses and political point scoring. Curry my yogurt indeed.




Having gained little ground with my optimistically acquired copy of ‘Teach Yourself Zulu’, I have been trying to displace my Anglo-phonic embarrassment by ameliorating my French (do you see what I did there?) Most of our clients at work come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a Francophone nation, so this has been fruitful. It’s also been enjoyable, as I've an immensely friendly class. We go for pizza every Wednesday.

Aside from the obvious benefits of learning a language which are well documented, I would recommend anyone away from home for an extended period to join an Alliance Francaise, or similar cultural institution. Friendless in a strange country, these can be a great way to get a social life started.

A particular highlight a month or so back was the Francophone festival. Here representatives from various Francophone counties laid out little table displays in a sort of fête. The Canadians plied us with beautiful pastries and Belgians tried not to look ashamed as they handed out Stella Artois as the drink supposedly representing their culture. At the stand for the Cote d'Ivoire, I got to hold a cacao fruit for the first time in my life, and I had a long and interesting conversation about the Comoros Islands: a country which I had never even considered going to, and probably still won’t any time soon. Also the Bulgarians were there for some reason no-one, including the Bulgarians, could explain to me.

My first Cacao!

My first Cacao!

Burundian dancing...

Burundian dancing...

There was quality performance as well, with the Burundians putting on some fine dancing which I enjoyed whilst scavenging for ever more free food. It was particularly refreshing for to me to see the positive and vibrant side of countries whose image is negatively obscured in my work. This year nearly every time I’ve hear about Burundi and the DRC it has been in the same breath as descriptions of brutal violence and poverty; it was good to be reminded these are just single facets of bigger pictures.

Another memorable curiosity was an exhibition of art by a woman called Coral Fourie who had grown up amongst the Bushmen of rural Botswana. She has made a beautiful book, telling in French and English the stories of what I learned to be an extremely threatened community. Alongside this are reproductions of the art and imagery of the San culture, and some of her own inspired work, which you can look at here. You could reasonably fear that an Alliance Francaise might be some outpost of cultural imperialism, focusing single-mindedly on French Culture and dripping with stuffy Sorbonne pretension (mind you they did have some pretty raunchy sculptures in last week that only the French could get away with). I hope the experiences I’ve put to you show this is not so, and that the Alliance is an engaged and dynamic way to experience a new and unfamiliar place and culture.

Taking it all in (I do not know that man).

Taking it all in (I do not know that man)

In the context of placement taking language classes are enriching because you feel you are developing a skill. I have something useful to do in my spare time and structure in my week to keep me motivated. At university, the constant learning can be almost overwhelming so that the thought of yet another class - a language class at at that - can seem overwhelming. I have felt this many times at Bath. But at work, with it’s focus on set tasks and routine, going out to learn something and improve yourself is refreshing. It is worth preserving the energy to do this if you can.


Ellie & Roisin's year at SHPI


📥  2015-16, Health, Uncategorized

Final countdown at the SHPI - 1 month, 6 days, 16 hours to go...

We can't believe how quickly this year is going!

The last month has been one of the busiest yet, full of health checks and fitness tests!

NHS Health Checks

NHS Health check

Ellie delivering an NHS Health Check

This year the lab has started delivering NHS health checks, an initiative aimed at making people aware of how their lifestyle affects their cardiovascular health. This involves a cholesterol test, blood pressure and BMI check as well as diet and exercise related questions. The health checks have been a great opportunity for Roisin and I to learn more about the health side of Sport and Exercise science as opposed to working with athletes.

GB Army Boxing

Over the past couple of months we have been assessing the body composition progress of a group of GB Army Boxers. Not surprisingly the post Christmas assessment saw fat gains across the board, training has since put them back on the right track! Recently the boxers had an resting energy expenditure (REE) assessment, this test involves lying down in a rested state whilst wearing a facemask which allows us to analyse the level of oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled. This lets us determine how many calories a person needs each day to reach their weight targets, safe to say we were extremely jealous of the amount they get to eat!

Case Studies

Since January we have been providing sport science support to two of Guildford City's swimmers. Unfortunately for us, swimmers train either early in the morning or in the evening which has meant some late nights and heavily caffeinated mornings! Our earlier lactate testing in the pool with Olympian James Disney-May proved to be good practice and we have now collected data for our two case studies over numerous different tests. Both have showed a steady improvement over the season and are posting some impressive times at swim meets, as well as each having ambitions to reach the Olympics in the future.

Alongside all this work we have of course found time to stay active and are making good progress in our tennis abilities...should be about ready in time for Wimbledon.





The end of an era…!

📥  2015-16, Health

This is my 10th and final blog about my placement year at London 2012 Olympic legacy charity Join In UK.

To quote Rachel from Friends, it really is the end of a mini era!



How time flies... 

I can’t believe I have finished my placement year! It has gone so fast! And I am so sad it has come to an end!

It is going to be very strange not hiking it up to London each day! Nearly everyday, since June last year, I have got the train and walked the same route to work. I have developed, without even realising, habits on my commute. For example, I get in the same train carriage; see the same people, the same barista at costa coffee serves me and of course being amongst the amazing buzz of commuters in the city all marching to work. I even managed to spot Boris on his bike during my last week!

Whilst I am most definitely looking forward to the summer break, I will really miss placement!

The spectacular sites of London!

The spectacular sites of London!

The buzz of the city...

I am really going to miss the buzz of the city and the amazing landscapes I see each day! There is something very stimulating about walking to work each morning with hundreds of commuters and walking past Big Ben, the London Eye and various other landmarks. I have definitely been around most of the city centre of London during the last year, and have greatly improved my navigation skills! But there are still many places I didn’t go, just goes to show how big London is! I definitely have tried not to take London for granted, it really is an amazing city and I am so lucky to have had the chance to work here for a year.

Join in...
It is really strange to think that I didn’t know or had even met the 25 people I work with at Join in. And I have spent nearly everyday seeing the same people and working with them for the past year. Without sounding too cringe or cliché I couldn’t have asked for a nicer, more welcoming and generous group of people to work in my first full time job with.

Having a nice group of people to work with definitely helps!

Having a nice group of people to work with definitely helps!

I have definitely felt part of the team and I have had the chance to get involved with a bit of everything on placement, here are a few of my highlights…

  • Worked collaboratively with NGB’s (such as UK Sport, LTA, England Hockey and Sport England) to put more volunteers into grassroots sport. Responsible for updating major events on the Join In website. Interviewed volunteers and clubs and wrote blog posts for the website.
  • Compiled the profiles of BBC Sport Personality of the Year (SPOTY) stars, managed the call list to connect athletes and outstanding volunteers in order to deliver the nation’s biggest ever thank you to sport volunteers at the SPOTY show.
  • Managed Join In’s invaluable PR coverage database, capturing the media value of Join In’s campaigns.
  • Attended major sports events such as; Anniversary Games, Euro Hockey, 6-Day London and Modern Pentathlon Championships!
One of the highlights- BBC SPOTY 2016

One of the highlights- BBC SPOTY 2016

Why I would recommend placement!

I was never really 100% sure if I was going to do a placement as part of my degree. Partly because I took a year out after a levels before I came to uni, and partly because I had settled into my Bath routine, I don’t like change!

When the opportunity at Join in came up it looked like the perfect chance to learn about the different areas of the sports industry- which was my main motivation for doing a placement year. I have gained more than an insight and have had the chance to acquire first hand experience in delivering on the ground and nationwide campaigns. I am very lucky I was offered the chance for this unique placement. Not only the theoretical side that will help me with my degree, but the practical and 'life' skills.

I was lucky to visit the Olympic Park a few times this year

I was lucky to visit the Olympic Park a few times this year

These are a few of the things I gained from placement:   

  • Practical experience of the sports
  • A strong understanding of how a charity
  • Working in a small team of 25 people has
    meant I have an increased knowledge
    of the different areas of the sports industry
  •  Good understanding of career
    pathways to different job roles
  •  Increased confidence
  • New network of contacts
  • Experience full time work and working in
Back to the beautiful Bath!

Back to the beautiful Bath!

Back to Bath... 

Finishing my placement in May means I have a lovely long summer before final year commences in September. I have some exciting plans over the next couple of months, which will be nice!

Through placement I was informed about an exciting volunteering opportunity with Team GB. For a week in June I am volunteering in Birmingham with at the “Kitting Out” process. This is giving out the official Adidas kit to the athletes off to Rio! It definitely will be exciting to be part of and again a new experience to add to the list!

I am looking forward to going back to Bath for final year, especially as I get to see some of my friends who have been abroad this year on placement.

A couple of people at work said “make the most of your last year being a student! Which I definitely will do! But I am definitely not as scared or dreading the working world now!

Louise Rose

(Sports and Social Sciences)


"Making Time!"

📥  2015-16, Health

This is my 9th blog about my placement year at London 2012 Olympic legacy charity Join In UK.

Trip to the West End!

One of the ‘classic’ London things to do is to see a musical in the West End. I have been meaning to go all year! My sister, Lizzie, is the singing and acting one of the family, so I asked her to chose something for us to go and see. I was up for seeing anything, as long as it was upbeat.


With my sister at Kinky Boots!

She suggested Kinky Boots, which we went and saw at the Adelphi Theatre one evening after I finished work. It recently won a few Olivier Awards and had a great write up. The theatres in London always surprise me at how big they are inside compared to what they look like from the outside! It was a fantastic show! The singing and dancing was amazing and it was a very upbeat play! It was also funny too, so definitely one I would recommend to anyone.


The Adelphi Theatre in Covent Garden

Behavioural Insights Event!

I was lucky to have the opportunity to experience one final event at Join in, before I finish. This was the launch of their new research called ‘Making Time’, defined as “providing a comprehensive new look at the behavioural science around volunteering and in particular volunteering in sport, the UK’s biggest sector.”

The research was conducted with support from BT (Join in’s founding partner) and Simetrica ( a specialist social impact research organisation).

An outline of the research.. .something I will definitely be using with my uni work in final year!

An outline of the research.. .something I will definitely be using with my uni work in final year!

The research primarily focussed on who volunteers are, how often and why they do it (the benefits and motivations). The reasons why people don’t (the barriers), and then considered how behavioural science principles might be used to play up these benefits and motivations and overcome these barriers.

The 'Making Time' research

The 'Making Time' research

The event was a ‘breakfast’ meeting, which meant it started at 8am! So I had to be there early before hand to help set up and greet the guests. Of course the morning wouldn’t go without a train drama! There’s me thinking the 5:30am train I had to get on I would be guaranteed a seat and a smooth, quiet journey- nope! A fire at Vauxhall at 3am earlier that morning caused severe delays, over crowded trains and me panicking I wasn’t going to make it in time. Fortunately I made it only 30minutes late and didn’t get lost finding the venue!

The research set up in the conference room

The research set up in the conference room

The event took place at a Cabinet Office building, unfortunately I am unable to disclose the name of the venue due to security purposes, but it was a very nice building! My role at the event was signing the speakers and guests in, which was an excellent chance to see who was there and put a face to a name. The guests included people from Cabinet Office, charities, NGB’s and general sports enthusiasts. There were a couple of Lords and Dames there too! Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson was one of the speakers, along with Join in patron comedian Eddie Izzard. Eddie Izzard definitely had a presence about him that made him stand out, you can always tell when someone is famous!

The main speakers at the event

The main speakers at the event

A fro- yo and catch up on work life!

Another Sports and Social Science student who is working in London is Lucy Gell. Lucy is working at Samsung, so is “big time” in the corporate world. It lovely to see a friendly face (well 99% of the time 🙂 ) from Bath! It has definitely been interesting and entertaining comparing our placement experiences as well as an excuse to go for a fro-yo!

Another Bath placement student!

Another Bath placement student!

Louise Rose

(Sports and Social Sciences)


Ellie & Roisin's year at SHPI

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📥  2015-16, Health


BASES Student Conference 2016

Just before Easter we travelled across the country to Bangor, Wales for this years BASES student conference. This involved two days of talks by leading sports scientists, workshops and short student presentations. This was a great opportunity to learn about what students from other universities had been researching, as well as picking up some tips on Sports Science careers from the pros!

Dr Steve Ingham gave an interesting talk on what the English Institute of Sport (EIS) has been doing to prepare our GB athletes for Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. He then led a workshop on self awareness giving some audience members the chance to go on stage and present on any topic of their choice for 1 minute (including Ellie!). He also spoke about the importance of Sports Science students gaining hands on experience before working in the field, and the problem the world of sports science is currently facing with students relying solely on theoretical knowledge taught at universities. This made us feel fortunate to have secured a year long placement at the SHPI where we have already gained a huge amount of invaluable experience.

Bases photo

Dr Steve Ingham - Director of Science and Technical Development at the English Institute of Sport, delivering a talk on Olympic athlete preparation.


Keeping ourselves busy...

One of the skills we have learnt and been practicing is ECG application. One of our common fitness tests called a Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) uses ECGs to look at the electrical activity of the heart during exercise to make sure the heart is functioning as it should. Applying an ECG correctly takes practice so during our quieter periods Roisin and I have been taking the opportunity to put each other through our paces. The middle photo below shows Roisin fitted up with all the kit for a CPET, her results were nothing to write home about so she's off to the gym to get exercising!



Ellie and Joe decided to sign up to the Surrey Half Marathon in March 3 weeks before the event. Realising that they still had a way to go with their fitness training we decided to put some sport science knowledge into practice to make their few sessions as effective as possible! This included a baseline fitness test to give them heart rate and speed training zones to use, as well as a mixture of high intensity intervals and long runs outside. Luckily the training paid off and they both got round in one piece with Ellie being just 3 minutes behind manager Joe!

Finally after all this work and exercise we found time to go watch the Harlequins play Bath at the Stoop Rugby ground in nearby Twickenham. Roisin and I felt torn on which team to support, being Bath Students but having worked with a few of the Quins team over the last year. We decided to cheer for the Quins who ended up on top winning the game 35-28.


New research and eccentric commuters !

📥  2015-16, Health

Placement Blog 8

This is my 8th blog about my placement year at London 2012 Olympic legacy charity Join In UK.

Behavioural Insights…

For the last couple of weeks I have been lucky to be involved in another area of work at placement that is new to me! Join in are currently conducting research called ‘Behavioural Insights’.

Behavioural Insights draws on research from behavioural economics, psychology, and neuroscience to understand how humans behave and make decisions in everyday life. Whilst I enjoyed studying a couple of modules in sports psychology, as part of my degree in first and second year, this isn’t an area we covered. I am definitely finding it interesting!

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The research involves looking at the different barriers and motivations for sport volunteering and how you can increase the number of people offering their free time. Some of the barriers include ‘not enough time’, ‘not sporty enough’, ‘not confident enough’, ‘never heard of it’ and ‘don’t have the skills’. Join in are hoping that the research will contribute to what methods can be initiated to increase the chance of volunteering becoming part of someone’s lifestyle.

One of the social experiments that Join in have conducted so far, involves the use of Facebook ads. The ad’s come up on peoples news feeds with examples of people that have engaged in volunteering, and Join in are testing how many people click on the ad’s. For example, ‘I am Bob, I am a teacher and I am helping grow sport in London, lend a hand in London today”. It will be interesting to see the results of the experiment, especially as the use of social media is increasing by the second as well as the influence that it has on people’s lifestyle choices.

The different and slightly bizarre methods of commuting in London…

One thing that I have questioned during my placement year is the variety of methods of commuting people chose to use! It takes me around 30-40 minutes to walk from Waterloo to Farringdon each morning, and then the same on the way back in the evening. I enjoy walking as its cheaper, quicker and healthier than the tube or bus and there’s not a bad view of the River Thames on route. However, I have definitely come to the conclusion that walking to work is the most out dated method of commuting.

There is of course the classic ‘Boris Bike’ you can hire. With a swipe of your credit card you can grab a bike and go, which is a great initiative. However, whilst there are cycle lanes I have seen far too many near misses of cars or motorbikes crashing with cyclists on my route to work. Cyclists also love to ride through red traffic lights in London! I would rather cycle in a quieter area of the city.

The other method is a scooter. I don’t think I have still come to terms with seeing a fully-grown adult on a scooter. I got a scooter when I was 7 years old, and that was the last time I rode one.  The problem with scooters is that they are too slow for the cycle lane but too fast for the pavement. Scooter commuters seem to find it difficult to ride them as well, I have seen a few women struggle to grasp the technique and I have overtaken them walking.

Unfortunately I am yet to see crazy Boris riding around London, but you never know!

Unfortunately I am yet to see crazy Boris riding around London, but you never know!

One of the most bizarre methods of commuting has to be the ‘Hoverboards’. Again I associated these gadgets with children. It involves the person balancing on an electronic board and then some how (I don’t understand how) steering with their body. I get how they can be fun to use, in maybe a skate park. But I personally can’t stand them on the pavements and roads of London! They weave in and out of people and then come up zooming behind you.


The delightful hoverboard! I am afriad I won't be getting one of these soon!

The delightful hoverboard! I am afraid I won't be getting one of these soon!

It has definitely made my walk to work more insightful and entertaining watching people use these various gadgets. However, I think for me personally its safer choosing the ‘simple and boring’ option of walking!

Louise Rose

(Sports and Social Sciences)