Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

We need to start talking about mental health

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

- in general, not just in Universities.

With many recognised illnesses, there is one group that is still tough for people to talk about; mental illness. Like any illness, it can impede your progress, but quite often it can remain unnoticed and undiagnosed, making it even more difficult. In fact, I’m often surprised about how many people are affected by it.

Well, I believe that the first and most important thing is to be more open about mental health; this will mean that people are more able to recognise that they are ill, to know that they are not alone in feeling this way. Because there is this stigma around mental illnesses, people may be scared to ask for help, and this could lead to devastating results. By being more open, I would like to think that something can be done before it’s too late, but also that people struggling are more willing to seek help. I also think that by being more open, people who are not suffering from mental illnesses would feel more confident in how to help someone else who is – because, to be totally honest, while I would do my best in that circumstance, I’m not sure if that would be helpful or not to the other person.

One thing I’ve learned about research is that it’s competitive, can be isolating and there are constant changes (the up-and-down nature of research), and this can make it really difficult to make friends. This is made worse by the fact that PhD projects start throughout the year. It’s not surprising to find yourself feeling down when your experiments are not working, and you feel totally on your own. It is usual to feel upset that someone had published something similar to what you are working on, if that does happen. Other things happen too, and if you are struggling, then please do not suffer on your own; there are services, from the University wellbeing service, your supervisor and colleagues, the Ombudsman, your GP. Talk to your friends about what you are going through – maybe they’re going through something similar – and about what would help you. Different things work for different people – I found talking to a psychologist helpful after being diagnosed with a physical illness, but you may find that medication is more helpful.

The thing to remember is, that mental illness can happen to anyone, like physical illness. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, and keep looking until you find something that works for you. Don’t beat yourself up about it – being ill has nothing to do with “just having the blues”, etc. Find people who are willing to listen, and be prepared to listen; by being open, I hope that less people are suffering with a mental illness on their own, and that people feel confident in how to help others who are struggling with a mental illness. Let's stop stigmatising mental illness.

 

How I came to study Pharmacy at Bath

  

📥  Faculty of Science, First year, Jemima (Pharmacy)

I thought it would be helpful to write about my journey to studying pharmacy here at the University of Bath. I will start by saying that while I have enjoyed my first year of Uni, pharmacy is an incredibly difficult course. When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor and even when choosing my A levels I knew I wanted to do something involving patients, using my science to help people. I did work experience in a hospital with the view to do either studying medicine or pharmacy and I honestly found the doctors job on this specific ward very boring, spending hardly any time with patients hours looking at a patients’ tests.

I also spent time with most other healthcare professionals- physios, occupational therapists, nurses, healthcare assistants and a ward pharmacy assistant. I found their jobs much more interesting and rewarding- I talked to the pharmacy assistant about the role of the pharmacist and really enjoyed what the pharmacy assistant was doing, checking drug charts, talking to patients, arranging discharge medicines, roles the pharmacist often did as well. I also did some work experience with emergency nurse practitioners in a minor injuries unit- I loved their role as well but knew that I didn’t want to be a nurse. I found out that pharmacists are starting to be used in this sort of area in A&E and in GP surgeries, and I also considered other potential areas for pharmacists, and from then on I decided that I wanted to be a pharmacist. I completed an Extended Project Qualification (equal to an AS) on the future of pharmacy- how pharmacists’ roles are changing in traditional types and what new areas of pharmacy are emerging.

I first came to the Uni on the open day and I fell in love with Bath straight away, even after a difficult journey that should have taken about 3 hours but which took over 5 (leave plenty of time if travelling by car to an Open Day as Bath can get quite congested!) I had also visited Bath a couple of years earlier and had always wanted to come back and so it was so great that the Uni offered pharmacy. I would really encourage people to go to open days- it is a wonderful way to get a feel for the university, the facilities and the course that they are offering. I think it is so important that I am helping out at our upcoming open days (more to follow).

Bath is one of the top universities for Pharmacy in the UK, consistently getting 90-100% pass rate in the pre-reg exam (which is set by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and all pharmacists must pass to register). As a comparison, one other uni that I applied for had a pass rate of about 50%. The grade requirements for pharmacy at Bath are quite high- AAB, including chemistry and one other science at A level as the scientific content is of a high level and is hard. I exceeded the offer and have still struggled to understand/remember things at times this year!

For me applying to do Pharmacy went like this: I went to the summer open days at the end of first year of college in around June time (Bath has Open Days in June and September) then applied in October for 5 pharmacy courses of different standards/grade requirements. In early November I had my first interview, at Bath! For healthcare courses, you almost always have to have an interview, partly I think to help reduce the numbers of people slightly as lots apply and it is very competitive, but mainly to check that you have the people skills for treating patients, to check your motivation for wanting to study pharmacy and to ask a little bit of chemistry. I was so pleased my first offer was from Bath (my favourite uni) and then over time I had interviews at the other places and got other offers. Once I had got one from Reading as well, my insurance, I officially put my firm and insurance choices on UCAS. I was worried about putting my firm and insurance as Bath and then Reading as they both had high requirements but my personal advice would be to put your two favourites unless you are really unlikely to get the grades.

In April I applied for accommodation,  and then I found out I had a place at Bath on results day in August. From then on I was in a pharmacy Facebook group chat and then we got allocated our accommodation and there were pages set up on Facebook to find your flatmates so then we had a flat groupchat. Then at the end of September I finally started studying Pharmacy at the University of Bath.

Confirmation of my place at Bath!

Confirmation of my offer from Bath!

A bit of advice if you are just looking to apply to do Pharmacy as a backup for medicine-don't! If you are thinking about it be careful as some universities say they would rather have someone with lower grades/lower predicted grades that wanted to do pharmacy than someone who wanted to do medicine but didn't get in. I didn’t realise that Pharmacy would be so hard or intense- everyone thinks of medicine being really hard but I think (maybe controversially) that pharmacy is just as hard and you have to have much of the same knowledge- complex biology and chemistry, potentially even more chemistry and maths doing calculations as well and knowing more about drugs. The course for pharmacy is 4 years as opposed to 5 for medicine but really pharmacy needs to be or could easily be stretched to 5 years (with some unis doing this).

After completing a pharmacy degree there is a year (pre-registration year) where you work in a pharmacy underneath another pharmacist, with an exam at the end set by the GPhC. One of the slightly annoying things about pharmacy is the fact that you have so much knowledge you must know and by the time you are qualified you have had a lot of training and often continue to train (Independent prescribing, Clinical Pharmacy Practice Certificates/Diplomas/Masters etc) and have to complete 9 continuing professional development entries every year. You don’t get paid anywhere near as much as well qualified doctors (although it is still a professional salary), and may not get as much respect from people- some people think you are just training to be a glorified shop assistant, which is really not true and I am glad to say that I think the public perception of pharmacists is starting to change. If you really want to do pharmacy and become a pharmacist, which I personally wanted to, then Bath is an excellent place to study it!

 

PGBio Inspirational Speaker 2017

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

Every year PGBio, the post-graduate biology society, invite a senior scientist to deliver an inspirational talk. This year, we were very fortunate to have the Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse come to us. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine alongside Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt for their work on the regulation of the cell cycle, was the former president of the Royal Society and is currently the director of the Francis Crick Institute.

It was amazing to have Sir Paul talk to us, and later on I had the opportunity along with other PhD students, post-doc.s and a Masters student to have an informal group coffee with him. Sometimes, these kinds of situations can get awkward, but that was not the case here, and I really appreciated his honesty and kindness. Here are some of the highlights from the day;

Attack your hypothesis from many angles, and if it’s still intact, then it’s probably true – I have not considered this before, and I guess a part of me is scared of doing this precisely because whatever hypothesis I have may not stand. But I can see that it is important to let that dear go, so that you can be thorough in your research and, ultimately, have confidence in those hypotheses that remain intact.

Reality of research is that we all make mistakes – this is definitely true, but it’s something that is not always evident when you read research papers; well, they are usually the “good bits”, right? It is comforting to know that you are not the only one to make mistakes.

Enjoy what you are doing, and have breaks – this is something I definitely stand by; the ups and downs of research is tough, and if you’re not enjoying it then it is going to be harder. And sometimes, the best thing to do when things are not going well is actually to have a break, whether that’s going home early and not thinking about whatever experiment is not working until you come back the next day, or just taking a few days/weeks off. It really does help to have a fresh mind!

I am so glad that I had this opportunity, especially at this stage in my career, and this will be one of those events that will stay with me. So, thank-you Sir!

 

First year reflections

📥  Uncategorized

First year is officially drawing to a close, with only one seminar and one lecture remaining for me. This doesn’t mean I’m finished though, as I’m rudely reminded by the list of deadlines on the wall in front of me, but there are just 4 pieces of coursework and an exam between me and a four month summer! It’s very strange in the sense that Freshers' Week feels like it was just the other day, but I also feel like I’ve known my friends here for years, so I can’t really tell if this year has flown by or felt crazily long..

It’s very strange though that knowing that I’ve almost done a quarter of my degree (and I’m doing a placement year, so for those who aren’t they’ve done a third!). I’ve got involved with a lot of stuff this semester and I’m really glad, as, although it’s not good to overcommit yourself to stuff and end up stressed, I definitely feel like you get more out of uni if you put more in. I only realise this now after my mum nagged at me for years in secondary school to get involved with stuff and I could never be bothered… oops! Never too late I guess.

Deadlines- almost there!

Deadlines- almost there!

There are some good things about first year being over. I know that the course next year will be more interesting, as a lot of second years have said that. I’ve still really enjoyed this year, but it’s a fairly broad overview to psychology, and I’m looking forward to focusing in on more interesting aspects and learning about more things which I haven’t studied before. I’ll also get to leave behind the flatmates who never quite learned that the kitchen sink is specifically there for washing up… a concept some clearly struggled with. Ah, I can’t wait to have a tidy kitchen!! And I’ll get to live in a nice, big house with a bath! And a tv!

Halls is like living with your friends and I do love my flatmates, but it is going to be great having our own house and kitchen and being able to sit in the garden and have a local pub.. can you tell I’m excited?? But I also know a lot more about the uni now. I haven’t got the apprehension that came with starting last year about making friends or getting lost. I’m now in societies and do volunteering and just kind of feel like I know what I’m doing which is definitely a nice feeling!

I will miss my room in Norwood

I will miss my room in Norwood

Obviously, there are a few downsides, too. Like, er, the grades counting towards the final degree. I would love to know how many times this year I’ve said ‘it’s fiiiiine, it’s first year; doesn’t count’ when someone’s stressing over work. It’s the go-to phrase in moments of doubt. You just need 40% to get to second year, and while a 2:1 or first is preferable if you’re doing a placement, it’s very easy to forget that when trying to convince someone to come on a night out. I’m also a little bit gutted to leave behind Norwood House. Halls are the epitome of convenience; when again will I ever live above both a night club, a supermarket, a starbucks, etc. etc. etc. And being able to crawl out of bed 10 minutes before a lecture and make it there on time?! I have essentially been living the dream. While there are lots of perks to having a house, halls have been pretty great. And I don’t get to have freshers week again! My friends are reliving it by being freshers crew, where they’ll be allocated a flat and take them to activities and drop them off at different events during the week, but I’ll be working at home so didn’t want to commit. I’m quite jealous though as I’m sure the events will be great again, and I’m still not over missing Russell Howard this year… maybe they can sneak me in..

One of the definite highlights of first year has been making so many great friends

One of the definite highlights of first year has been making so many great friends

First year has been so, so good, and involved all kinds of things, from late night hide and seek in the library, sitting with cider on sunny days by the lake, trying ballet lessons for the first time, nights out in Bath and Bristol, late night work sessions in the library, countless trips to Fresh (the on-campus supermarket), flat walks around the golf course, gym classes, lots and lots of coffee before 9.15s, many, many trips to the various fast food places in town open after the clubs shut… and that’s just naming a few. While it will be nice to go home for summer and have the luxuries of a washing machine and not having to do things like remembering to buy food, uni has been great and I’m already excited to come back for next year!

Laura x

Bath is sooo pretty

Bath is sooo pretty

 

Bath in the spring- campus and beyond

  

📥  Rob (Physics)

The sun has returned! The nights are drawing out and Bath’s campus is bursting with life in every corner. From the spring flowers, to the famous campus ducks. Even the students look lively through the haze of coursework deadlines and hangovers. Sitting by the lake has become a common pastime on campus, whether to read, drink some beer, or even have a barbeque.

Blog

The whole campus is full of these flowers

Turns out making friends with ducks is easy – just keep feeding them!

Turns out making friends with ducks is easy – just keep feeding them!

The change in weather has made me rediscover one of my favourite things – walking. I have a lot of free time of Thursdays which I’ve been using to explore the local countryside with my flatmates. I’ve discovered a couple of really interesting routes through the local area and plotted them on top of an ordanance survey map – if you come to visit with your family I’d recommend having an amble. These routes take a good half a day, but they go to and from campus so you could easily fit them in. I took a few photos of the walks which I’ve put below as well.

Our route map

My route map

Francesco made friends with this nice old lady from Bristol. She was fishing at a reservoir that we passed on the blue route

Francesco made friends with this nice old lady from Bristol. She was fishing at a reservoir that we passed on the blue route

This is Midford castle, again – part of the blue route

This is Midford castle, again – part of the blue route

A surprising place in the middle of nowhere – all of the houses in the settlement are in this photo. Hardly even a village

A surprising place in the middle of nowhere – all of the houses in the settlement are in this photo. Hardly even a village

The whole area is full of canals. You can even take a boat trip to the city from Bathampton

The whole area is full of canals. You can even take a boat trip to the city from Bathampton

Further afield

The Easter break has been a chance to discover some sights slightly further out from Bath. A number of factors – having some time off, really decent weather, and most importantly my girlfriend’s car, have made this possible.

Bath is surrounded by natural beauty. It sits directly below the Cotswolds, a region that’s characterised by its idyllic villages, rustic charm and seemingly never-ending hills. As well as the Cotswolds, there are the Mendip Hills area which is slightly southwest of Bath. The most attractive part of this area, in my opinion, is the region of Cheddar Gorge. It’s a geological wonder that seems to be out of place in the middle of rural England and there’s a dramatic walking route which traces the top of the Gorge. They can all be accessed by public transport though a car would obviously make the trip easier; if you’re here on an open day I’d say a trip to Cheddar is much better than Stonehenge – both more exciting and at the significantly cheaper price of zero pounds.

Castle Combe- So there’s not much here but it’s pretty as it gets.

Castle Combe- So there’s not much here but it’s pretty as it gets.

Cheddar Gorge- this is the best walk in the area, in my opinion. Dramatic but accessible. Much better than paying a small fortune to look at Stonehenge.

Cheddar Gorge- this is the best walk in the area, in my opinion. Dramatic but accessible. Much better than paying a small fortune to look at Stonehenge.

 

 

Review of Engineering Placement Year

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

I am now coming to the end of my year-long placement as an engineer at a Plymouth firm called Pipex px®. In this post, I will attempt to give you a brief summary of the highs and lows of my experience. If you have not yet decided whether to do a placement perhaps this post will help you make up your mind. If you are in the process of applying to the University of Bath (I really hope you are!) then this piece will fill you in on everything that the placement scheme at Bath offers.

If you look back to the blog post I wrote at the start of my placement year you will be able to get a more in depth feel for the first few weeks. However, for the sake of completeness, I will recap those weeks in this post, giving you the ‘full package’. Moreover, I can now put those weeks into perspective and make relative comparisons against what I now know about the real world of work – scary stuff!

Without further ado, here is my placement year, condensed into several short paragraphs. I shall start at the beginning…

"My colleagues, managers and directors could not have been more helpful"

As far as I am concerned, the first three months of placement felt like a real whirlwind. As expected, I had a lot of names to remember and a lot of protocol to learn before I could begin real projects in earnest. A formal training programme saw me through my first few weeks and for the following two months I wrestled with some introductory projects. During these months, time flew by very quickly as everything I was experiencing was completely new to me. I had to learn exactly what processes the engineering team followed to see projects through to completion and since I hadn’t been there very long this led to lots of questions. Fortunately, my colleagues, managers and directors could not have been more helpful and I quickly learned that there is no such thing as a stupid question. The wages earned during placement year are a real bonus- having money to spend outside of work was such a novel for thing for me and I made sure to make the best use of my free time; every evening and at weekends. I could suddenly afford cheap flights and trains here and there and I made sure to use these offers to my advantage – it was great! I kept fit by popping down to the local rowing club at least two evenings a week. I think that being a member of a local gym or sports club like this is really beneficial as exercise gave me the opportunity to clear my mind, keep healthy and remember that there was life outside of work.

Not a bad way to unwind at the weekend!

Not a bad way to unwind at the weekend!

Between the months of October and April I really had my work cut out. I was lucky enough to be part of a team working on a huge project in Switzerland and this kept me fully occupied for over 6 months. I gained real responsibilities and learned so many skills associated with managing large, time-constrained projects worth millions of pounds to the company. At the time, it felt like a real baptism of fire but now that office life is coming to an end I am really grateful and honoured that I was able to work on such an important project. Although overtime was necessary and I even worked over the Christmas holiday period to make sure things got done, I was still free at weekends to do whatever I wanted and this was just brilliant. It is always worth remembering that whilst studying at university, even at weekends students are burdened with upcoming coursework, hand-ins and revision. In the real world of work, at weekends, I was completely and utterly free to do whatever I wanted and whilst on placement I had a little extra cash in my back pocket to fund the next adventure too.

In the spring time, it was very satisfying to see the large project I had been working on come to a close. I was able to make sure everything I did was left in an orderly manner and tie up any loose ends. As far as my engineering know-how was concerned it was also extremely useful to see the steps taken by large firms to bottom out massive projects and make sure that all work carried out can be accounted for commercially. Although not directly applicable to my studies, I am very excited to bring back my new-found organisational skillset to everything I do in Bath while studying Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. One thing placement has reinforced is that organisation is key – I am very confident that I will be able to apply this to many aspects of my life after placement, and not just academia.

"I had been given various roles in a range of projects and had so many new opportunities to learn and grow as an engineer"

As my contract at Pipex began to run down and months left turned into weeks, I made sure to take time to consolidate everything I had learned. As suggested by the ever-helpful placement team at the University of Bath, I regularly wrote notes on everything I was learning whilst on placement and kept an up to date notebook of my year. This was very helpful when it came to writing my final placement report. As an engineer on placement it is necessary to write a lengthy report documenting everything that you have done whilst on placement (in the long run, this report acts as a mock-up of the report that must be submitted to our accrediting professional body e.g. the Institute of Mechanical Engineers). With this in mind, I made sure to include as much detail as possible in my report. As it happens, the process of writing this report was worthwhile; it brought home the fact that I had done so much in the space of just one year. I had been given various roles in a range of projects and had so many new opportunities to learn and grow as an engineer – the work I was involved with was so far removed from anything I had ever done before but in each situation I was able to adapt my skills and deal with any problems. I am proud of what I have achieved and I must thank the very supportive engineering team at Pipex for all their help, support and tolerance.

So there we have it, a whistle stop tour of all things placement – this time with some perspective. Although not always sunshine and rainbows, the whole experience has been unforgettable and put me in a fantastic place for the future, whether that be in engineering or elsewhere. As always, the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bath have gone ‘above and beyond’ to make sure that I am not only happy, healthy and safe whilst away from campus but also that I lay solid foundations for professional accreditation when I graduate.

If you have any questions relating to placement as an engineer please do leave a comment below and I will do everything I can to make sure your questions get answered. - happy to help wherever I can – placement is such a valuable year…

 

Learning and collaborations

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

Recently, I got a chance to learn about a technique which I knew about but have never used before. This was definitely a great experience for me, as a big part of doing a PhD is learning new techniques and expanding your knowledge. There are certain techniques and experiments which will be applicable for a lot of fields, while others are more specific to certain fields, and having a chance to use a technique which may not necessarily be a standard in your field is rewarding and also helpful in improving your knowledge (as you can probably imagine). Also, it's like a breath of fresh air when you are stuck repeating the same experiments.

Projects will require a different set of techniques, and each set will be different. And the truth is, there is a difference between knowing the theory behind the techniques and knowing how to use them (however, knowing the theory definitely helps, especially when you’re stuck); even though I knew the theory of Western blotting, it still took me ages to get one to work! Sometimes, when you need to do a particular experiment that you've never done before, this can mean collaborating with other people in your group, or other groups. Given the vast amount of techniques available, you end up knowing quite a lot about a few, selected techniques, so collaborating is a fantastic way of learning that little bit about a different technique - who knows, that little bit of knowledge may in fact give you an edge in future job applications! I guess that is also why a lot of research papers contain a lot of authors.

This PhD has been enlightening in that I have got to see how research actually works in reality; from how to figure out why the experiment is not working, to getting an insight into how long it actually takes behind the scenes – I now know how long it can take to get the data for a paper, then how long it takes after that before the paper is actually published, and I really didn't anticipate how frustrating that all can get at times. All in all, I have really enjoyed getting to use the techniques which I have learned, and I suppose learning something new recently reminded me of the thrill of research and why I wanted to do a PhD in the first place; definitely helpful to be reminded of that when you are lacking motivation... Use opportunities to expand your knowledge when you can, because, like I mentioned above, you never know when that little knowledge may come in handy...

 

Bath- A Night Club Tour

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

Now alcohol and clubbing really aren’t for everyone. I have plenty of friends at uni who’d much rather opt for a night in, and that’s fine. But pretty much every time I told someone that I was going to Bath uni before going, I got the same response; ‘Really? The night life there is rubbish’. Now, I have a reputation at home (and now at uni..) for being a bit of a mess on a night out. I don’t go out very often (I’ve also acquired the nickname of flat grandma) but when I do, it’s very much with a ‘go hard or go home’ attitude. So this worried me. I imagined there to be one, tiny club, full of weird middle aged men playing songs comparable to a school disco. My friend in second year laughed at my concerns and assured me that this wasn’t the case, that there were plenty of clubs but that they were underground. I didn’t want to look weird so I acted like I knew what this meant, but spent the summer thinking that all of Bath’s clubs were secret, and not, in fact, quite literally, under the ground.

On campus is the SU, which I’ve mentioned on many occasions due to my current bedroom’s position above it. As well as 2 for 1 cocktails on a Thursday night from 8-12 (which on too many occasions has ended up relocating to our kitchen until it’s starting to get light) there are 2 club nights. On Wednesday it hosts Score, a night out mainly for the sports societies. People tend to go with their sport, though it’s not unheard of to go without a team. Societies often have a theme when they go, and it’s not uncommon to see people in very bizarre fancy dress wandering up the parade in the middle of campus. I’ve never been and I’d say the general consensus is that it’s fairly average, but hey, I probably shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it, and the fact that I haven’t been part of any sports clubs since about year 4 probably doesn’t help.

On a Saturday the SU is transformed into Klass. This is a similar concept minus the sports part. For both, entry is £5 with a ticket or £6 on the door (unless you live on floor 5 of Norwood and then it’s free!). The queues got long after about 11.20 (for Klass anyway), and it’s always pretty packed. To start with I wasn’t keen but I’ve grown to love it. The music is good, the drinks are cheap (you will learn to appreciate £2 VKs; not sure why alcopops make a comeback at uni) and it goes on until 3, at which point you can crawl back to bed which is ideal when you live on campus. The only thing missing is the end of night chips, which we’ve even been known to cook ourselves afterwards when the desperation is real. Klass has led to some of the funniest stories, the weirdest communal hangovers and as it’s so conveniently located you can quite literally decide to go at 11.

Klass is so close to my room I appear to be taking a nap

Klass is so close to my room I appear to be taking a nap

There are a lot of clubs in town. Just a disclaimer; I’ve never been to a lot of the clubs. I only discovered this when going to write this post, but due to my ongoing freshers' flu and general laziness I don’t venture out all that much. So here’s my opinions on the clubs I have visited, though bear in mind that there are also Komedia, club XL, Zero Zero and The Nest (and probably others, too) all of which I’ve heard good things about but never actually been to.

First up, Bridge. I love Bridge. Some people think it’s expensive but honestly most of Bath is. Entry is £6/7 and honestly I just love it so I think it’s worth it. It’s got The Earl pub upstairs, and drinks are cheaper here then buying them downstairs (a fun fact for you). It has THE BEST smoking area with tables and heated seats, which I love because honestly dancing is tiring and sometimes it’s nice to sit and have a drunken chat. The club itself is very dark (which I’m aware sounds weird) but it’s actually nice because fewer people see your awful dance moves. Away from the main room there are these little rooms which I like to think of as caves which you can hire out for private events but a few are open too. There’s always a DJ and yeah I guess in many ways it’s a standard club but it’s a good one.

Taken in my beloved smoking area at Bridge

Taken in my beloved smoking area at Bridge

Moles. I’ve only been once, after once deciding I couldn’t be bothered and heading home on the bus armed with some chips. But when I went recently I loved it! We went on a Tuesday which is their cheesy music night, and I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of cheesy chart music when they’re drunk?! There was some Abba, some Justin Bieber… What’s not to love? There’s a bar upstairs and downstairs and the club itself is fairly small, with a stage taking up a bit of the main room (I felt like a celebrity looking down at people). Drinks are reasonably priced, music is great. And if cheesy pop music isn’t your thing, they have different themes each night, so you can always go to one of them.

Po Na Na. There’s a lot of debate surrounding how it’s pronounced, and to be safe I tend to just go for ‘Pos’ (like the Teletubby). But even then, some people called it ‘Poos’, so who knows. Either way, I loved my first night out here so much that drunk me bought a loyalty card. It seemed like a good decision, and hey, I now get 2 jaeger bombs for £3 so I like to think of it as an investment. It’s very central, though most of the clubs are, and you can get off the bus almost right outside. Guest list is £3 and student tickets are £4 so it’s cheaper entry than some of the other clubs which is always appreciated at this point in the semester. They also do a one pound skank night, which my flatmate assures me ‘is the one’, so yeah. The staff are friendly and it’s separated into a lot of little rooms which is cool when you have a short attention span like me, because you can just go for a wander and find a new room with new music. The loyalty card also gets 2 for 1 cocktails so yeah, I highly recommend Po/Poos.

Somehow even drunk I wanted to capture the aesthetically pleasing lighting

Somehow even drunk I wanted to capture the aesthetically pleasing lighting

Khoosoosi. Thank god I’ve never had to attempt to pronounce this word… But I’ve only been a couple of times on a Thursday, when this club has a night called Redlight. And I love it. The first time we went was the last week before Christmas and it was honestly mayhem trying to get in as the queues were crazy and it was awful, but once inside we had a great night. As with all these clubs being underground they get very hot, but I don’t actually find Redlight too bad for warmth! It gets pretty crowded but with cheap drinks and, again, good music, it doesn’t affect your night. The actual décor is really cool; I haven’t seen this personally but my flatmate always tells the story of how the urinal is so aesthetically pleasing that he was too scared to use it in case it was actually just a water feature. Entry is about a fiver so pretty standard, but has led to many good nights out. Its location also means you practically have to go and get food on your way to the bus stop, so it’s really ticking all the boxes.

So yeah. There is much, much more to uni than going out drinking, but for the times that you do, it’s good to know that you’ve got choices. We’ve trekked it to Bristol before for the bigger clubs there, but honestly, Bath’s nightlife is really pretty good. And if clubbing’s not your thing we’ve got a great 'spoons and so many places do 2 for 1 cocktails that you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

Laura x

 

An overview of first year psychology

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

Despite it being only March there are actually only a few weeks left of first year. This is a bit daunting; ‘it’s fine, this year doesn’t count’ has been pretty much my mantra for approaching every deadline. Whilst my only exam this year isn’t until the end of May, the Easter break is just a few weeks away, and after that there are only 2 weeks left of teaching. It has flown by! It’s so crazy to think that just a few months ago my flatmates were strangers and that I thought I’d never learn my way around campus, but here we are! I’m enjoying university so much more than I expected and am already sad about not seeing my friends over the summer!

Before arriving I had very little knowledge of the psychology course. I signed up for the 4 year course which includes a year long placement during the third year. And this was pretty much all I knew… oops. The psychology course has about 180 people on it, most of which are girls. I went to an all girls school so this just felt like the norm for me!

The course is split into different modules, and the year is split into two semesters. During both semesters some modules are the same, these are Mind and Behaviour, Controversies in Psychology, and Quantitative Research Methods (I’ll explain what these are later!). As well as these, we had Applying Psychology in Semester one, as well as one optional module. We chose these at the start of the year, and I pretty much chose based on the unit names. There was a range to choose from, from sociology, education, a language module etc., and I went for Being a Psychologist during first semester and Psychological Skills during second. In second semester Applying Psychology was replaced by Research Methods and Design, and for those of us doing the placement degree we also had a weekly lecture about this.

This is probably a lot to take in and sounds a bit confusing, but I will explain it as it’s actually very simple. Nearly all of our contact hours take the form of lectures which have everyone on the course present. For Mind and Behaviour we also have people from other courses there, too, which is pretty cool as one of my flatmates studies Psychology with Education and so she’s in the lecture with us. The exception to the lecture format is Controversies in Psychology, which is a seminar. We have these for one hour a week and we’re split into seminar groups of about 13. We also occasionally have labs to do practical work, and the course is split into two groups for these. Lectures vary from 1 to 3 hours, though the majority are 2. My attention span is not great so I’m always very grateful for a break after each hour (which usually involves a snack…) The optional modules are a lot smaller too, and I think both of mine have probably had about 30 people in.

I thought I’d give a little description of each module! They are all compulsory apart from the optional module, but luckily they’ve all been really interesting and not too intense! Mind and Behaviour is essentially an introduction or overview to studying psychology at degree level. We’ve covered loads of different aspects, like memory, development, sleep, and consciousness. The lecturer, Ian Fairholm, is amazing, and the lectures are always engaging and cover a range of content. If you’ve studied psychology at A Level or IB you might recognise some of the content from that, but it’s not all of it, and if you haven’t it doesn’t matter either! But it’s nice sometimes to recognise the name of a study, nice to get some clarification that my brain still actually functions… This is the module which our summer exam is based on (it’s so nice only having one) and it’s multiple choice! What’s not to love, really?

I definitely didn't make as many notes for my exam as my flatmate did for his...

I definitely didn't make as many notes for my exam as my flatmate did for his...

Controversies in Psychology is, like I said, the seminar. We cover a range of stuff, and because of the small group size it’s a good place to ask questions and it’s quite guided. We wrote an essay during first semester and did a group presentation, and this semester we did an online debate, another group presentation and we’re currently working on an essay. There isn’t a theme as such for this module but we’ve covered a broad range of content and there’s a lot of opportunities to engage with other members of the group.

Quantitative Research Methods is probably the module I find most difficult. But my grades have actually been okay for it (Touch wood!). I’m not sure if it’s just a confidence thing, but this is the module where we face the dreaded stats. I didn’t do maths after GCSE and my parents were very worried I’d struggle with it at uni, but what I didn’t realise was that we only have to do statistical tests online using special software, and it’s very well explained and talked through, so it’s really not that bad. The lab sessions are SO useful. We learned a lot about knowing which statistical tests to use for data, which I covered briefly at A Level, but I feel like I understand it a lot more now. We’ve done 3 lab reports, which involve carrying out an experiment in class and writing it up. I find these challenging but nothing beats the feeling when you hand one in! This semester we are working on a research proposal, which essentially involves planning an experiment and I’m finding that really interesting which is good! We’ve even planned and carried out our own experiments in groups which has been so good- it’s really nice to do hands on work so early in the degree.

Applying Psychology was the module which we had our January exam on. This was an interesting module last semester, which involved hearing about different areas of psychology. We covered loads, including clinical psychology, organisational psychology, social psychology… The list goes on. It was good to learn about how broad the subject was, and the lectures even gave an insight into how to go into each area in the study. The exam was essay based and as much as I hate exams it really wasn’t too bad!

When facing a lot of deadlines I like to retreat to the coffee shops in town

When facing a lot of deadlines I like to retreat to the coffee shops in town

Being a Psychologist was my final module of Semester One. I wasn’t really sure what I had signed up for but I really enjoyed it! Each week someone from a different area of psychology came in and discussed how they got into the area they worked in and then gave a detailed description of some research which they had carried out. We wrote 2 essays for this module, one of which was a summary of one of the pieces of research, and the other comparing the methods used by 2 different psychologists. The module gave an insight into quite how diverse psychology is and it was really interesting! I don’t know what the other optional modules were like but I really enjoyed this one.

My optional module during second semester is Psychological Skills, which so far has been great. We’ve had a mixture of lectures and workshops about different areas of psychology. These have varied massively from risk assessment to reflective writing skills to mindfulness. We’ve written an essay on our experience preparing for the January exam and it’s been a really practical unit as we’ve learned skills which will help us with future exams and study! Would definitely recommend.

The final module is Research Methods and Design. I love research methods!!! Which I think is quite odd, as a lot of people regard it similarly to stats. But I love it! I really liked this topic at A Level and we’ve done it in more detail now, studying different data collection techniques like questionnaires, interviews and focus groups, practiced carrying them out, and during our research proposal we essentially plan a study based on gaps in current research. This is quite challenging but the topic area is so useful that I’ve ended up doing extra reading purely out of interest!

Reflecting on the year like this makes me feel like I’ve done loads… which is so weird because I spent so much of first semester in bed! The course is so varied and interesting that I haven’t got bored of a particular area, and whilst I want to go into clinical psychology this has given me a much better understanding of what other careers are available to me. We’ve had a lot of support- we can email questions to our lecturers and we have forums set up for each assignment where we can publicly post questions which has been sooo useful. Whilst I’ve had many late night panics in the library (who hasn’t?!) I honestly love the course and can’t wait for the next few years!

Laura x

 

Surf 2k17 Moroccan Adventure

  

📥  Karolina (Psychology)

During this Inter Semester Break, I have possibly had, what I would call, the best trip of my life. Paying £300 to go Morocco with Bath’s Surfing Society has most probably been one of my best money spending decisions to date. I’ve met so many wonderful people (surf soc and Moroccan surf instructors included), started a new hobby, caught some African sunshine, and on top of that managed to prevent the stomach bug I caught from ruining my trip. T’was a wild 7 days.

The trip started one dreary morning, when I woke up at 6am to get myself on a coach that was soon bound to leave campus.

(pic of fb post here)

Only properly knowing one person going on the trip with me- my housemate Richard- I was a bit apprehensive of how this trip was going to go. Worried about people being up themselves about surfing, I was unaware of the Surf Captain’s promise to make this year’s surf soc “more inclusive”. I was later enlightened about this new surf ethos but to be fair, the ethos could be felt as soon as I arrived. Everyone was lovely.

When we first arrived at our accommodation, it turned out Richard and I had to join up with other people to fill up an 8 person apartment. I knew two other girls, met on previous surf socials, so we had a four. 3 other people joined us. It’s amazing looking back on that moment, thinking how we didn’t know each other at all and comparing it to where we are now. There’s nothing than bonds you more to people than getting collectively crushed by the same waves, getting drunk together nightly and living in the same apartment.

And what an apartment it was! Every day after surfing, we would sit on the balcony, listening to Claudia’s music paired with the background sound of the waves crashing against the rocks, waiting for dinner, and watching the sun set.

Enjoying the Moroccan sun on our balcony

Enjoying the Moroccan sun on our balcony

We would have breakfast and dinner on a terrace with the ocean surrounding us:

breakfast

Del and I eating breakfast during our hangover

Lunch was reserved for the beach. We would spend entire days either on the beach or in the sea, doing our best not to drown. Our surfing instructor, Abdo, is possibly one of the most stereotypical surfers I have met. He would very often come out with the following types of great phrases:

• About surfing: “it’s not a sport; it’s a feeling”
• About smoking: “it’s good for nature; it kills people”
• About the relentless current pushing us in all the wrong directions: “it’s nature man”
• And my favourite: “Enjoy the short life.”

We have since adopted some of these phrases and learnt the meaning of “gnar”, “gnarly” and “shaka”, which were subsequently heavily overused during the trip and for some time after.

Practicing the all important 'shaka' symbol

Practicing the all important 'shaka' symbol

I’ll never forget the last day of the surfing trip, when upon contracting a stomach bug and mistaking it for a hangover, I lay sleeping on my surf board while everybody else enjoyed the last day of surf.

My low point of the trip

My low point of the trip

I felt like death but Abdo managed to make me feel better by sharing a story of one of his nights on the beach, upon which he drank so much vodka he couldn’t walk in a straight line. “Never again.” He said.

The sun setting on a great day's surfing

The sun setting on a great day's surfing

Speaking of nights on the beach, one of my favourite memories from the trip must be when we had a bonfire on the pebbly beach. It wasn’t the softest of beaches but that didn’t put anyone off coming down and lounging around the light and warmth coming from the middle of our circle. At one point, we decided to run down to the water and get soaked. The darkness of the water blurred with the night sky, distinguishable only by the brightness of the stars. I wish I had taken a photo.

Our final night campfire party

Our great campfire party

There are so many reasons why I loved this trip. These were just some of them. I would strongly recommend anyone coming Bath to come on this trip or to join the surf society here; however, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea so I’ll say this: when you go to uni, try that thing you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t worry about not being good enough or the fact you’ve never done something before or that you won’t make friends. You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take so throw yourself on them! You’ll thank yourself in the end.

Stay gnarly lol