Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

HPC Supply-Chain Innovation Placement Blog - 4

  

📥  School of Management

Back to Bath

Placement overview

My months in Bristol and Paris couldn’t have been more interesting and challenging working on the Hinkley Point C  (HPC) project. I developed professional and technical competencies in International Supply chain management, financial management and procurement; and appreciated how senior management was willing to engage with placement students. My basic French improved quickly to intermediate level, as language lessons were provided for me in Bristol and Paris. There were many ‘extra’ memorable experiences I hadn’t anticipated. In Bristol I was present during visits from the former EDF Energy CEO, the French ambassador and various other VIPs. I was also given the opportunity to attend the 2017 Civil Nuclear Showcase in London and a team-building event between EDF’s French, British and Chinese delegates in Paris. My personal favourite moment was a conducted tour of the nearly commissioned Flamanville 3 EPR nuclear project. The placement was stimulating, insightful and fun, helping me become a more confident and knowledgeable final year student, with practical industry experience – including presenting to the HPC Board of Directors.

(The FA3 EPR reactor under construction in the north of France)

The Bath Placement advantage

Returning to student life in Bath after a year in the ‘real’ world felt strange at first; but I soon re-adjusted to university life and found the enthusiasm to apply my recently acquired practical ‘work related’ skills to my final year theoretical studies and coursework assignments. My confidence in group work scenarios and presentations was much greater than before and my analytical abilities have definitely improved.The international 3rd year component to the BSc (Hons) International Management degree gives students a distinct advantage. The year can be flexible and tailor-made to suit the individual; like my 5-month academic exchange in Mexico combined with a 5-month International Placement in Paris. Students are encouraged to develop language skills, which are crucial in increasingly interconnected and globalised business environments. I realised the advantages of such an experience when recently applying for MSc courses and 2018 summer internships: my applications have more substance because of the practical skills, business and management experience and foreign language acquisitions that my international placement year has given me.

(The University of Bath campus in the summer)

What’s next for me in 2018?

This year, having already gained a practical and technical grounding in procurement, supply chain management and finance for future nuclear energy production in the UK and Europe, I have decided to broaden my horizons and explore the financing of renewable energy as part of the solution to the threat of climate change.After graduating from Bath, I have been accepted to study on the MSc Climate Change, Management and Finance programme at Imperial College Business School (where EDF Energy’s Paul Spence, Strategy and Corporate Affairs director, presides on the advisory board). Nuclear Energy has a substantial role to play in forging a new energy landscape, and with EDF Energy at the forefront of providing low-carbon energy, I certainly would not rule out working for them in the future if the opportunity arose.

Goodbye!

This is my final blog, as I will be handing the reins over to Anna-Mariya, the current University of Bath (BSc) International Management student on placement with EDF Energy on the HPC project. Thanks for reading my blogs over the last 6-months. I hope you found them interesting, informative and gave you a glimpse of all the ground- breaking work EDF Energy is undertaking. Who knows, they may have even encouraged you to apply for a placement with EDF Energy! All the best for 2018.

 

New semester, new experiences: Re-Fresh Week!

  , ,

📥  Undergraduate

It has come to that routine time of the year where all the students have gone into hibernation for the exam season. But fear not, for just around the corner lies Re-Fresh Week; the perfect excuse to sign up for more sports and societies and enhance my university experience.

Sports at Bath

I  am currently a member of the Ladies Sixes Hockey Team. We train twice a week with additional sessions for fitness and fun games. We play matches every Wednesday and have a social once a week; the socials precede the matches on Wednesdays and they take place at the one and only ‘Score’ night out. Each week there is a different theme for the individual hockey teams and believe me, the Hockey Committee can get rather creative. This season has had me and my Hockey Fresher Teammates dressing up as Oompa Loompa’s, horses, babies and plants, to name just a few.

The Ladies 6’s Hockey Team at Score

Societies to join

Even if sport isn’t your thing Re-Fresh Week offers many other societies that have something to offer everyone. Whether you enjoy music, dancing, baking, environmental awareness, business, or even want to seek out an enriching cultural experience, there is a society for you. If you are keen to explore your musical talent whilst at university then I suggest you join the MusicSoc or even stretch your borders and join the Bath University Student Musicals Society (BUSMS). Likewise, if you feel like dancing is your thing, then the BodySoc may be just for you. Other societies at the University of Bath include the BakingSoc, Vegetarian Society, People and Planet, the Irish society, the University of Bath Management Society and Bath Entrepreneurs.

Entertainment Central- The Media Suite

One of my favourite features of the University of Bath’s groups to join is the Media Suite – CampusTV, Bath Time Magazine and University Radio Bath (URB). These three groups make up the heart of media on campus, and provide the students with constant entertainment, news and humour. I am on the Committee for CampusTV and can safely say that it is an absolute blast; we cover various on-campus events (political and social), as well as create a monthly Score recap of all the weird and wonderful themes and night-out gossip. We even have our very own shows, which are student created and student led. We hold a monthly General Meeting where all CampusTV members can join in as we discuss the projects we have recently created and the ones to come, as well as taking ideas from students for new shows. If you enjoy filming, presenting or editing, or even just have an idea for a new show, join us. We have regular socials, exciting annual events (such as the upcoming Mediacon 2018 and annual Christmas Meals) and generally just have a ball working together.

Me with some of the campus TV team

Students' Union life

One great thing I have done which has really helped to immerse myself into university life is to become a Hall Rep for my Halls of Residence, and this is an easy way to get one foot in the door if you plan on being deeply involved in the Students' Union. As a Hall Rep, you are able to plan and promote fun social events for your flatmates and have the support and funding from the University Students Union to do so. Likewise, you can initiate Community Outreach events and fundraisers as well as sports socials. Being a Hall Rep also stands you in good stead if you wish to be a Fresher’s Week Captain in your second year as you are already greatly involved in the life of the Students' Union. Being a Captain is an amazing experience- you undergo training the week before Freshers' Week and then the party starts. You can either be an Event’s Captain (your main focus is on events management of Fresher’s Week) or a Residential Captain (you are directly involved with Fresher pre-drinks each night and work to get all the Fresher’s involved in the day activities.

On shift as an Event Captain during Freshers' Week 2017

In 2017 I was an Event’s Captain and my shifts included managing the main arena, overseeing various events, and manning the information points. On our nights off, as captains we were allowed access to the main arena and headline events. By being a Freshers' Week Captain, I was able to meet so many new people from different courses and integrate myself with the older year groups. If you come to Bath, I highly recommend applying!

 

Getting stuck into a society

  

📥  Undergraduate

You’ve probably heard all about the many different opportunities there are at university. The chance to learn about cultures from all around the world through meeting new people, gaining independence from your parents and moving to a new city, blowing most of your student loan on nights you won’t remember (I can’t say I’d recommend this) and many other things.

All of this may seem exciting for some but also quite daunting for others and trust me I was one of those who was a little daunted. One of the best ways I’ve found of settling in to university and making new friends is through joining a society. They are groups of students that are linked by a shared interest in a particular topic that meet together throughout the week. At Bath there are a huge range of different societies from the Knitting society to the Curry Appreciation society. They are all great for socializing and meeting new people, learning new skills you never thought you’d try and most of all for having fun.

If you come to Bath all the societies will have a stall in Freshers' Week at the Freshers' Fair so you can find out more about them there if you decide to come to Bath. In this post I’m going to talk about some of the societies that I’ve joined this semester and share some examples of things that I’ve done within them while explaining a bit more about how they work.

Juggling and circus skills society – Gravity Vomit

This was a society that I had researched prior to coming to university as juggling has been a hobby of mine for a number of years and I was keen to get back into it at university. I found out about the society by meeting some of the committee at their Fresher’s stall.

Each society has a committee that runs the society. The committee consists of a Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer. They get elected by members of the society through a voting process that happens each previous year (with the winners fulfilling the roles throughout the following academic year). The Chair heads up the society and should know about everything going on in the society from finances to new members coming in. The Secretary is the link between the committee and the other members – they are responsible for the communication of events and news as well as organizing meetings for the committee. The treasurer is in charge of the budget and finances for the society, making sure money is being spent effectively and in accordance with the budget.

After meeting the committee members, I was really excited to go along to my first session. We meet in art studios with high ceilings to practice juggling and other circus skills like diablo, plate spinning, unicycling and much more. Getting consistent practice in and having other people around me to learn from has meant that my juggling has improved massively, and I’ve picked up a few other skills along the way.

Our collection of juggling props

Not only have we had the regular meetings, but we’ve also had a range of socials events including skating, going to the pub, and a Christmas meal. These are a great way to get to know people with similar interests, and are pretty fun too. Other events include teaching groups how to juggle and the committee are planning a one-day juggling convention where over 200 jugglers from around the country will gather to learn from each other, compete, and to watch an awesome show at the end of the day. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Bath Video Game Society

I came across this society at the society fair at Freshers' Week and thought I’d check it out. It’s quite a large society and they run monthly LAN parties where they book a room on campus and everybody brings their own computers to play games together.

Despite the stereotype of gamers being somewhat anti-social, I felt very welcome on my first visit. Whatever game you’re interested in you’re bound to find someone whose played it and loves it as much as you do. The main games played were League of Legends, DOTA 2 and CSGO but with the classic Mario kart thrown in there as well along with a group of people playing some boards games together.

They ran some tournaments throughout the day and ordered in pizzas, so you could quite easily stay there for the whole day if you wanted to. I got involved in one of the tournaments and came third- it was an easy way to find people playing the same game and to talk to them about it (trust me I could go on for hours talking about DOTA).

Christian Union

Another society that I had looked into before coming to university was the Christian Union (CU). This society isn’t affiliated with the Students' Union so isn’t on its website (long story as to why that is) but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the largest and most impactful societies on campus.

The CU’s aim is to “To give everyone at Bath University the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ” and they do this in a range of different ways.

They have weekly meetings where we all gather together to get teaching and be encouraged in our endeavours whatever they may be. I’ve met so many different people on different courses, different years and a whole range of backgrounds. Everyone’s so welcoming and great to talk to – having people to learn from who have experienced much more than you and to have them looking out for you is so reassuring. Its like a little family.

Not only are there weekly meetings but the CU also regularly hold events that are open to anyone. During Freshers' Week every night at the chaplaincy members of the Christian Union give out free tea and toast to people coming out of the main arena events. They do this to bless those on campus and let people know about the CU – I helped out on one of the nights and it was so rewarding to just give to people and see the reactions from them (which really made the lack of sleep worth it).

Some of the food we made for events

 

One of the other things that I love about the CU is how keen they are to get everyone involved. We ran an events week, where we had loads of events all focused on the aim of the CU to spread the good news. Pretty much everyone in CU helped out with the events, with setup, making food, hosting the events and promoting everything. I tried doing things I’ve never done before and felt really challenged but grew so much through that experience.

Without a doubt, when at university it is really worth getting stuck into whatever societys you find yourself at home with – it is hugely rewarding and really helps to maker the most of your time at Uni.

 

Take part in an adventure at university!

  

📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

Hoping to be a part of something spectacular at University? Secretly dream of being a performer? Look no further than the University of Bath’s very own A capella group: 'Aquapella'.

Amongst all the interesting lectures, coursework, nights out, and  more – a hint of music may be just what you are looking for. Aquapella is less of a group and more of a family, which opens doors to the most amazing experiences.

Just this past year the group excelled to new heights by competing in the International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s). Having placed 3rd at quarter-finals and 1st at the UK semi-finals, with one of their members being awarded ‘Best soloist’ for both of these rounds, they now hold the title of “UK National Champions of A capella 2017”. As if this wasn’t enough, the now UK National champs were invited to compete on Broadway in the Big Apple where they went on to win the International Award for Best Choreography. What a year it has been! How do I know? I myself was a member of the group during this unforgettable year.

Aquapella at the ICCA finals in New York

The inside scoop: the life of an Aquapella member…

Becoming a member of Aquapella is nothing short of an experience in itself. You start with a taster session where you can sing along with the group and get a feel for what Aquapella is like. Then there are the auditions and finally call-backs where the group will teach you some of their songs and see how you ‘blend’. Once you’re in, the fun starts!

Aquapella have the most exciting events on their calendar; from flash mobbing a TED talk, singing at School of Management Events, to flash mobbing a wedding (requested by the groom of course). You can most definitely catch Aquapella busking in the beautiful city of Bath on Saturdays and Sundays and if that’s not enough, you can even hire them yourself. But just before you think it’s all work no play, I can assure you that Aquapella’s social calendar is just as full with socials between the various A capella groups sprinkled across the UK.

Aquapella at the ICCA semi-finals in London

One of our first socials of the year was a karaoke night with the 'Bristol Suspension' A capella group, held at the Bristol University Students' Union. A few weeks later we travelled to Cardiff for a blast from the past with a decade themed social where each group dressed up to the nines of different times. In addition, to these socials, Aquapella holds their very own annual Christmas meal and Aquapella reunion night in December. These two nights are an all-time favourite where firstly, you get to indulge in the Christmas festivities such as turkey, mulled wine and Secret Santa, and secondly, new Aquapella members get to meet old members as well as the founder of Aquapella himself, whilst of course singing and dancing the night away.

Work, work, work, work

International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)

Getting to the top requires hard work but there was laughter all the way. Preparation for the ICCA’s involved vocal training, choreography, and great marketing efforts to fund the group’s travel. From Exeter for the quarter-finals, London for the semi-finals, and New York for the international finals I can safely say that the group bonded incredibly through this journey both on and off of the stage.

Edinburgh Fringe

Each year Aquapella travels to Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they rent out a venue and put on an hour-long show which takes your through a journey filled with laughter, inspiration, as well as ‘sass’ and leaves you in joyful tears. The Aquapella Fringe show is nothing short of really hard work – the group trains for two weeks to bring the sheet music to life and all members hand out flyers each day at the festival in order to bring the public to the show. Fringe is another incredible experience filled with yet more laughter, cooking rotas, board games, and special end of year celebrations.

Parading around the streets of Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival

Handing out flyers to a famous face at the Edinburgh Fringe festival

Aquapella, where to now???

Having recorded and released a music video for their single “Somebody Else” just this past year, Aquapella stays on the ball by recently having been in the studio recording a fantastic cover of “Purple Rain” (coming out soon). The group has also entered the Voice Festival UK this year! Keep an eye out for more details about performances, song releases, competitions, ball games, and more on their Facebook Page and their brand-new website. And if you do end up coming to Bath and feel that you’d like to be a part of Aquapella’s unforgettable adventures, then you should definitely put yourself forward for the Freshers' Week auditions. I am really glad that I did, and have learnt so much about music and myself by being a part of this very special musical family.

Some more photos from our time in New York City at the International Champs of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)....

 

 

 

My First Semester at University

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

The University of Bath

Starting university, in a way, was different to what I expected. I love my course, the university and Bath as a city. But moving out? It's hard. Freshers' Week was tough for me because I was constantly aware of the fact that I was away from home. But when lectures started, and I had a routine, everything fell into place. Living away became much less daunting and university became something that I was looking forward to experiencing again. I’m glad I stuck it out the first week when I was struggling because now I can see that university is exciting and enjoyable. Before moving to Bath, the thought of cooking and cleaning for myself everyday was something I was not looking forward to! But actually, the transition was easy. Going into Semester 2 is less overwhelming because I know what to expect and I feel prepared for doing assignments and meeting deadlines.

 

The Scholarship

The Gold Scholarship Programme has helped in so many ways. I’ve said it before but applying for the scholarship is a must if you’re eligible. The money is an obvious benefit, but the additional support from Liz and the other scholars is something that I am grateful for. I really do believe that the scholarship has added to my university experience. The networking event in particular has helped to improve my confidence in speaking to people I don’t know. Additionally, the peer group meetings, training sessions and events have helped me to take a step away from work. Studying Sociology, I had a lot of assignments to complete in Semester 1, and I found myself getting overwhelmed because I wasn’t taking a break from work. The scholarship requirements have helped me to take a step back and do something that wasn’t related to my degree. Without the scholarship, I don’t think I would have realised the importance of doing something completely different to research and essay writing.

This semester, I am looking forward to what else the scholarship is going to offer and the different opportunities I am going to use to meet my volunteering hours. I spent Semester 1 focusing on getting used to university life, but for Semester 2 I am looking forward to dedicating more time to volunteering both within the University and within the community. The things I’ve learnt so far, both at the University of Bath and through the Gold Scholarship Programme, have helped and will hopefully continue to help me overcome personal barriers of confidence and independence.

 

Transitioning from Physics A-Level to University level

  

📥  Undergraduate

The idea about progressing your studies into higher education can be daunting and is usually surrounded by a thick cloud of misconceptions and, primarily, frantic searching for information on student forums. With this post I aim to clear up the main misconceptions around this transition and hopefully give some insight and clarity to prospective Physics students.

1. You might not want to pack up that entire stack of Physics textbooks and notes.

The great thing about starting a new Physics module at university is that at the beginning of the course students are taken through the basics . This is to account for the fact the student demographic will be a diverse mixture of people with all kinds of scientific and education backgrounds. So, while some of the material taught might seem redundant and obvious coming from an A-Level student perspective, it could be entirely new information for a significant percentage of students. Moreover, the majority of the groundwork was taught and given to us in the notes, provided by the lecturers. Due to this I found myself to personally have no use of the A-Level textbooks and notes I brought along with me. This could, of course, be different from person to person, given the fact there are numerous exam boards and individual learning styles.

Vibrations and waves handout (provided by lecturer) and my notes

2. Shift of teaching dynamic.

The way you are taught will obviously change as you progress onto university. But not by much. Although daunting at first, I found the lectures were comparable to your average A-Level lesson. The lecturers are very approachable in the way they create an interactive atmosphere. Students can ask questions and/or seek further explanation at any time during lectures.

My notes on the Properties of Matter module, which we learn during the first semester of study

There’s also the option to talk to the lecturer after the lecture or outside of teaching time, i.e. visiting them during office hours or revision sessions. It is easy to assume that you’ll receive little to no one-to-one attention for help with assignments and problems. Speaking from my experience with the University of Bath Physics Department, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do lecturers provide constant opportunities for support throughout the course, you also have a personal tutor with whom you meet at least once a week in a group. Moreover, there are more support systems in place, such as peer mentors and peer-assisted learning sessions.

3. You will need to step up your individual study game.

It’s an obvious fact that your studies will become exponentially more independent, but I’m here to explain just by how much. The biggest difference at university is that you don’t really receive prep/homework. What you do receive are problem sheets with no specific deadline, except maybe for the day the problems class regarding those questions is held. It is basically your responsibility to find time in your day to sit down and do those problems, and preferably not the day before your exam! So, although there is a well-built support framework set out for students, it is up to the student how big of an advantage of all of the resources available they’ll take.

4. Practical work

Probably the biggest change I had to adapt to- the laboratory work. This could of course have to do with the new lab atmosphere, but that is a factor in adapting to any new place. Within these lab sessions, typically 3 hours long, you are given a lot of responsibilities. Firstly, the safety of yourself and those surrounding you (i.e. don’t poke the cool-looking equipment) and secondly, having to adapt to brand new material, equipment, techniques and gathering data all within a set timeframe. Don’t let that come as a scare, because you are given a set of detailed instructions/background information and there are very friendly and attentive lab support staff. You will find yourself using some methods and knowledge covered at A-Levels, but you will mostly be building upon them. For example, you will learn new graphing methods, how to use other types of graphing paper, how to make more effective and efficient measurements, new types of data analysis, etc. You will also be faced with the challenge of starting to learn to do wordy writeups of those experiments, especially when it comes to doing your first lab project. But again, there’s a strong support framework set for tasks like this.

To summarize, although adaptation time may vary from student to student, you won’t be alone in this transition. You will be surrounded by fellow freshers in the same position as yourself and, speaking for the University of Bath facilities, with access to a support system all through your studies.

 

Chemistry: To BSc or not to BSc?

  ,

📥  Faculty of Science, Undergraduate

Sweet – you’ve chosen to study Chemistry at the University of Bath! Great choice, but now comes another decision. Do you choose to follow the MChem course or the BSc course? What the heck is the difference? Which one will suit you? Does it even matter?

I’m Freya, and I’m a fourth year MChem student. When I was applying to study Chemistry, I didn’t have a clue which degree course to follow. I settled on the MChem route on the basis that, assuming I did an industrial placement, I’d (hopefully) graduate after four years with a Master’s degree instead of graduating after four years with a Bachelor’s. This blog post was not written to sway you one way or another, but to lay the Chemistry cards on the table and allow you to assess what is best for you.

Let’s start with your first two years at Bath - you won’t see any difference between BSc students and MChem students at this stage. There will be differences if you study Chemistry with Management or Drug Discovery, but BSc students and MChem students will be as mixed together as two ideal gases in a closed system. You will attend the same lectures and help each other out with the same labs, rock up to the same tutorials and endure the same exams. But things will change come third year, so I’d recommend working out what’s going on before then!

Let’s talk BSc. This is your solid, old-fashioned, Bachelor of Science. It can be followed as a three-year course in Bath, or a four-year course with a sandwich year in industry/year abroad at a partner university. Final year is final year, whether you choose to take a sandwich year or not. What this means is that when you return to the university for your fourth and final year, you will follow the same course of study as a third year BSc student who did not choose to undertake a placement/study abroad.

I’ll use an industrial placement as an example, but the same applies to the study year abroad. You will not receive a grade for your sandwich year, but you will have to pass the year to proceed to your final year. This essentially means a year out from formal assessment and the opportunity to earn a bit of money or explore a new culture without the exam stress (dreamy). It will be accredited on your exam certificate though, so employers will know that you have got this experience. What this does mean is that you’ll gain a BSc in four years instead of three, so it depends how keen you are to escape the education system!

Having spoken to BSc friends, the unique selling point of the program is the freedom you get to tailor the final year to your personal interests. You’re able to select between different Chemistry modules in both semester one and two, as well as modules from management, education, or the foreign language centre. You also have an abundance of options regarding your final year project; you can work in the lab, you can do a public outreach project, you can do a case study in a school – you’re the one in control!

Now let’s talk MChem. As I said, everything until the end of year two is followed exactly the same as your BSc colleagues. MChem students can either do four straight years at Bath, or four years including an industrial placement or a year abroad. The main difference between you and your BSc pals is that you will have to complete distance learning during your sandwich year, and they won’t. I don’t blame you for recoiling in horror at the thought of having to study after a long day at work – it isn’t the most pleasant notion. However, your time is your own and you’ll graduate after four years with a Master’s degree, saving yourself an extra year of study and student debt. You will take two exams in the summer before final year; one distance learning exam, and one general chemistry exam (a multiple-choice test on first and second year content). Combined with a placement report, your supervisor’s report, and some coursework, you’ll get an accredited year towards your MChem.

In your final year of MChem, you will have no choice in the modules you study in semester one. In semester two however, you’ll have 100% freedom of choice, as long as you stay within the listed chemistry units available. The main block of the year will be spent on a research project, working for a member of staff in the department. You won’t have as much choice as your BSc counterparts, but you will choose your project and you will become a member of a research group.

They were the hardcore facts and figures, now for some advice:

  • If you want to do a Master’s, I’d suggest doing it as part of a placement program. You’ll pay £1800 for your placement year instead of £9000 being at Bath. You’ll probably get paid, and (this goes without saying but) you will broaden your horizons.
  • If you choose an MChem with a study year abroad, you will be expected to pass exams at your host university and complete the distance learning for Bath. Although the grades at your host university won’t count towards your mark, it’s worth considering the potential workload.
  • If you are undecided where you want to go after your degree, it might be worth doing a BSc. You can only do a non-lab-based placement if you are on the BSc course, which opens up areas such as education, marketing, and management.
  • You can switch between the two courses. Please don’t see this as a no-wiggle-room commitment! Focus on your application for Chemistry, and work out the BSc/MChem details later! I think you need to have a 55% average in order to switch from the BSc to the MChem at the end of the second year, but switching is no problem at all.

I’ve tried to encompass the strengths and downsides of both courses, but I’m bound to have missed something. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to know more. Whatever you choose is not set in stone, and you’ll soon get a feel of what is right for you. To BSc or not to BSc? Indeed, that is the question.

 

Making the most of Bath: Latin and Ballroom Dancing

  ,

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

It’s fairly obvious to say that a big perk of being a Gold Scholar is the money we receive as part of the programme. One of the things I’ve invested this money in is developing a new skill while I'm at Bath… Latin and Ballroom dancing!

I go to two classes every week at the university: a beginner’s class and a technique class, both taught by professional instructors. The beginner’s class is where we learn the steps for each dance and practise them with a partner. It was definitely weird dancing that close to someone of the opposite sex to start with, but we’ve all got to know each other now so it’s much more natural! During the technique classes, we learn the finer details that make the dances look pretty and get us more points when competing…

Team Bath at the first competition of the season, in Southampton

Without a doubt, the biggest element of Latin and Ballroom at Bath is competing against other universities all over the country. There’s so much team spirit and support, even as a beginner you feel comfortable and confident dancing against other couples. I did my first competition after only 3 weeks of starting classes, and came away with 4 second places!

Medals and certificates from my first competition!

There's also a big social side. 'Social dancing' is held every week and is a chance to just have a dance and chat, and mix with different people. I've actually learnt a lot through social dancing because you get to dance with more advanced dancers and pick up some tips! Various events and trips are put on the committee too, some of the ones from last semester were ice skating, karaoke and a Christmas meal. There's also the amazing annual Winter Ball, held after Bath's competition in the Assembly Rooms (very very fancy...!).

Beginners group photo at Winter Ball

There’s no way I would have been able to afford to do all this without the money from the Gold Scholarship, so I’m incredibly grateful that I’m able to be part of one of the amazing sports teams and societies that Bath offers.

 

Being an Academic Rep

  

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

One of the biggest parts of the Gold Scholarship Programme is doing 50 hours of volunteering each year… this can be pretty daunting, especially for me as a pharmacy student with a very busy timetable! The way I’m getting the majority of my hours completed is by being an Academic Representative for my course.

Academic Reps are the ‘voice’ for students on their course.

We cover any sort of academic issue (the hint is in the name), such as receiving feedback for assignments or encouraging the recording of lectures. It’s a great way to make a change and ensure we have the best experience as students!

All of us come together for the annual academic conference to learn how to make the most of our roles

Every month, we have two meetings to attend and these are our opportunities to raise any issues. One meeting is with the Director of Studies for your course, accompanied with a selection of lecturers and other key staff – this is where you talk about course-specific issues. The other meeting is with other Academic Reps and the SU Education Officer, to discuss any university-wide problems and share tips and successes.

Eager Academic Reps queueing for free hoodies and goody bags

Obviously the main perk for me, as a Gold Scholar, is the volunteering hours! We also get free lunches at meetings (some have even included a Krispy Kreme doughnut…) and a free hoodie and goody bag at Academic Conference – this is a day-long event with lots of workshops about how to create change. But overall, it's just fab to be part of improving my degree for both current students and future students in years to come.

 

The Not So Scary Networking Event

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

Scared. Anxious. Uncomfortable. They were all words that sprung to mind when I heard about the Gold Scholarship Programme networking event on the 1st November. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The training provided before made the thought of networking seem less overwhelming and more achievable to carry out.

Every mentor was welcoming and helpful to all of us scholars, making sure we felt at ease in the situation so foreign to us first year students. The idea of speaking to people, who I didn’t know, about their journey and my future was scary, but within 10 minutes my worries were washed away. The evening was informative, yet still relaxed and full of friendly people to turn to for advice on everything from university life to how they got into their field of work.

I never imagined that I would be going to canape events in my first year of university. I expected to be eating super noodles on a student budget! The Gold Scholarship Programme brings so many opportunities and the networking event is definitely one of those. I spoke to people from different career backgrounds, making me aware of all the opportunities out there after graduation. It’s a scary thought to be looking into careers just two months into starting university, but it allowed me to challenge my idea of what I want to do, and explore other opportunities available to me, including careers I didn’t know even existed. Coming to university, I didn’t know the exact career path I wanted to follow, but now, I’ve discovered so many opportunities available to me as a sociology student.

Following the event, I learnt that it doesn’t have to be the scary or dreaded event that it sounds. It really is as simple as talking to someone and getting to know them. It can also be as important as making connections for future careers, but don’t let that put you off! Networking is something that I expect to do again in the future, and I’m so thankful to have experienced this already with the support and guidance of the scholarship team.