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Life as a student in Bath

Posts By: Laura Pettitt

Semester two: a mid term update

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

The last few week have been hectic! I’m 3 and a half weeks into semester 2 and I have hardly stopped! It was so strange being back at first; one of the weirdest things about uni is that it becomes difficult to know where home is. After being back with my family for almost 6 weeks and working full time at my old job I felt well and truly settled in and as if I was back on my gap year. But now I feel sooo settled back in here! It’s a bit of a strange feeling but hey having more than one place to think of as home can’t be a bad thing, right?!

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure why but this semester just feels so busy! I started some volunteering work which I’m really enjoying. There are so many opportunities to get involved with things around campus and I feel like I was too busy settling in to get involved before Christmas. This didn’t matter too much because my focus was on making friends and understanding the requirements of the course, but now I’m starting to think more about my CV and it’s time to start taking up more opportunities! As well as volunteering I’ve been to a couple of Amnesty International events and last night went to a really interesting debate about feminism with one of my flatmates. I struggle to motivate myself to go to extracurricular things sometimes but going along with someone else definitely helps!

I also got a gym membership! I’m so glad I did; at the start of the year my parents offered to get me one but I worried I wouldn’t use it enough to make the £289 cost worthwhile. However the rates are reduced after Christmas and so I got an off peak membership for the rest of the year for £99. My accommodation is about 3 minutes away from the Sports Training Village so I really have no excuse not to go! And I’ve been using it a lot so far; my days feel much more productive if I start them with a workout, and I’ve been to a couple of classes with friends too. As well as that I’ve been going to zumba and yoga during the week, both of which are free classes run by the Three Thirty club. It’s a really good way of fitting some sport into your day! And finally I’ve been doing ballet classes at The Edge. I’ve always wanted to do ballet but gave up hope as I thought I was too old to be a beginner, until I stumbled across posters advertising beginner’s ballet classes. They’re so much fun!

I feel very professional with my ballet shoes

I feel very professional with my ballet shoes

The workload this semester has also stepped up. I may or may not be writing this post as a way of procrastinating… I’m not sure if it’s because the semester is one week shorter or if it’s because I’ve taken up a lot of other activities but it suddenly feels like I always have work to do! I love being busy and it’s not an unmanageable amount, but unlike last semester where I felt I had a lot of spare time I now always have reading I should be doing or a lab report or essay to be working on. I guess that’s what to expect when studying for a degree…

And obviously I’m still finding time to socialise. After the initial Freshers' Week and post freshers excitement we’ve toned it down and I’d say our flat averages one or two nights out a week. I sometimes don’t even manage that; to be fair with so much going on I’m pretty exhausted and sometimes being in bed by 11 is much more tempting than still dancing in a club at 3… but only sometimes.

going out 2

Ignoring deadlines for the night and going out

So I’ve found a few ways of dealing with this; I put everything into the calendar on my phone. I always had my lectures on there but now I add things like zumba and ballet so I know when I’m busy and can see clearly if I’ve planned too much for one day. I have also been planning my meals which is sooooo useful! At the start of the week I look through my fridge and cupboards, plan meals based on what I have and what I need, and make a food order based on the stuff that I’m yet to buy. It saves so much time and money and is helping me to eat all the necessary food groups and vegetables without leaving anything to go mouldy at the back of the fridge… Would definitely recommend.

I've saved so much more I can afford avocados again!

I've saved so much more I can afford avocados again!

And finally, I have been trying to normalise my sleeping pattern. Obviously things like nights out affect this but I try to go to sleep and wake up at a similar time every day so that my body adapts to the routine and I don’t find myself needing a nap all the time. It’s pretty much working well (fingers crossed!)

Laura x

 

What life is like in Norwood House

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

In March 2016 I went off travelling for a few months, loved it and stayed for an extra 5 weeks. As I hopped from night bus to hostel to plane I hardly thought about Uni, which was a slight issue, because during this final 5 weeks came the day of choosing uni accommodation. I am massively disorganised, and could hardly remember the accommodation I’d looked through in February, but found an email draft where I’d written my top 3 choices of the vast selection, based on pricing, room size etc, so I forwarded it to my parents along with my username and password so that they could apply for me.

It's so important to consider different factors when you're choosing your accommodation. The most crucial one for me was cost; knowing that my brother had had the cheapest accommodation when he was at Uni meant that I didn't even look at The Quads. Ah, the mood lighting, ensuites, and double beds will always just be a dream for me. But also, some of the accommodation is catered. On my first day at Bath I heard a boy say to his mum in Fresh, the supermarket "do I cook pasta in the oven?" And honestly I think if your culinary skills are at that ability, catered accommodation may be the safest option for you. I, on the other hand, really love to cook, and am pretty fussy with all my dietary requirements, so actively avoided catered accommodation as a result.

Ensuite is a real deal breaker for some people. Initially I said I'd pay the difference so that I could have one, but when my mum pointed out that this would be hundreds of pounds I quickly gave up. And honestly, it's been fine. I've never had to queue for either the showers or toilet, they're always clean (I was surprised, too) and yeah, generally I don't think it's as dramatic as everyone expects.

The final big accommodation decision is whether you live on campus or in the city. I didn't even look at city accommodation; I'm lazy and wanted to fully embrace the convenience of campus life. But a friend on my course lives in the city and loves it. She applied late and it wasn't her first choice, but she says that it's so convenient being in the city centre; they're near shops, restaurants and clubs, in a much more central location than most of the student accommodation we'll live in next year. Yes, they have to get the bus in for lectures, but so do all the other years, and given that they don't know any different she says she really likes living there. So yeah, wherever you end up really isn't the end of the world.

There were a lot of things I hadn’t realised about Bath Uni. All I knew was that it was really, really good for psychology, that it was at the top of a hill, that it was a campus uni, and that I loved the city. So when I arrived I learned some fun facts like just how sporty it is (how I didn’t know that is beyond me), and also, that Norwood House is located above the Students' Union. All my flat mates knew, everyone was excited because it meant we could go out without even going outside, and it meant we were right in the centre of everything going on on campus. I tried to remind my mum of this while she panicked that I wouldn’t be able to sleep and hastily rummaged through my bag for ear plugs. I’m not gonna lie; Norwood can be noisy. Score is on a Wednesday and Klass is on a Saturday; the two nights ‘out’ on campus. Score goes on until 2 and Klass until 3, and I could sing along to Mr Brightside or Seven Nation Army from my bed if I wanted to. We also have the added fun that if someone sets off the fire alarm in the SU, we get evacuated too. Good times.

Tthe sunsets from the ninth floor of Norwood House are amazing.

Tthe sunsets from the ninth floor of Norwood House are amazing.

However, I love Norwood and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. All the rooms are spacious student rooms; single bed, wardrobe, 2 little chests of drawers, shelves, a big desk, an arm chair and a sink. Literally what more could you want? We share 2 toilets and 2 showers between 7 of us, and I am yet to have to queue. And our kitchen is massive; we’ve hosted meals for the whole floor many times.

We even got an extra table so that more people can eat in our kitchen

We even got an extra table so that more people can eat in our kitchen

And I’m on the ninth floor and I swear the views couldn’t be better. We’re also so near anything. Ever thought I wish I could go to starbucks without going outside? Well we can. And the library. And Mini Fresh (a convenience store), a cash point, laundry facilities. We have it all, and our rent is one of the cheaper options; I think it’s £122 a week. Also, within a week or two you’re so used to the sound of the SU you sleep through it, if you’re not at Klass or Score anyway.

Aand the best part, getting to live with these guys

Aand the best part, getting to live with these guys

Yes, our corridor looks a bit like it could be in a prison. It really does. But who hangs out in the corridor?? Okay we don’t have mood lighting like the Quads, but you can’t get a more convenient night out than one where you just have to go down 7 floors in the lift to arrive at the club. Norwood is the best. Not that I’m biased or anything.

Laura x

 

First year exams

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

Exams are weird. Personally I hate revising, feel stressed for weeks before and in the exam room, but pretty much always do better in them that other assessments. But after taking a gap year I found myself facing my first exam in over a year and a half, and it was really strange.

Years at Uni are divided into two semesters instead of three terms like a school year. Semester one runs from September to December, and then after the Christmas break you have your semester one exams, then an inter-semester break (one week) before starting semester two. The same thing happens with semester two; it runs from February until the Easter break and then you have exams after that.

Caffeine is a necessity when revising.

Caffeine is a necessity when revising.

The number of exams you have varies by subject. In psychology we were lucky enough to only have one January exam, but other subjects had a lot more (my friend doing chemistry had 8?!). But we had a lot more assessments throughout semester one, so I guess it kind of evens out because she didn't have to have any late night essay/lab report freak outs.

My school were very good at preparing us for exams; we had revision checklists, did practice exam questions for weeks before and had extra revision classes. But Uni is very different and are very much in control of your work. So while we could see previous year's exam questions much of the course content had changed, and we had our lecture notes and core reading to revise from. I found it all very daunting; I'm a creature of habit and I found myself craving the familiarity of exams at school. But this was great practice for the next few years at uni, and it was useful to get back into the habit of revising. Hand writing was also very odd; for the last 18 months I've scarcely written more than customer's food orders at work, and after 2 hours my hand was aching!

My flat mate decorated his entire room with revision.

My flat mate decorated his entire room with revision.

A very useful resource during exams was an exam forum on our online learning space, Moodle. This meant that as well as emailing lecturers with questions, we were all able to post public questions on the forum so that we could all get questions to common concerns. Our whole psychology course also has a Facebook group chat (there are about 160 of us in it) and while it freaked me out a bit to see how much everyone else was revising it was really useful. I'm not sure anyone actually enjoys exams (if you do then I'm impressed and jealous) but it was almost worth it just for the feeling of relief afterwards! And with only one exam I had 2 weeks off to nap and watch as much Netflix as I wanted before facing semester 2!

Laura x

 

A Day in the Life of a First Year- Weekend Edition

  ,

📥  First year, Laura (Psychology)

Before I came to uni I was really unsure how people spent their free time. Would I be constantly in the library? Going out every night? At the gym? Well, it’s fair to say, the answer to all three of those ideas is no. I’ve visited the library on a handful of occasions (and only then because my laptop broke), I’m too poor to go out anything like every night, and, well, let’s just say I haven’t made it to the gym every week, let alone every day. So one quiet Saturday towards the end of first semester I thought I’d document my day, to show what it’s really like to be a first year.

First thing’s first; coffee. An essential for starting any day. Here I had it in a flask which I stole/borrowed from my flat mate, because my mugs just don’t hold enough. It was a very grey, dismal day, which made me really not want to go outside. That’s pretty lucky, because at uni you really don’t have to! Love it.

My usual start to the day

My usual start to the day

Next was breakfast. As I do on many mornings, I managed to overestimate the capacity of the bowl, and subsequently had a bit of a microwave-porridge explosion. But being the good flatmate I am I quickly cleaned this up. I then topped my porridge with some peanut butter and fruit- 10/10 and would definitely recommend. It’s nice to add a little bit of colour to the beige diet every so often.

Oops

Oops

Upon returning to my room it came to my attention that my washing basket was on the verge of overflowing. I do a big wash every week and am still yet to work out how to reduce this, but it’s not so bad! In Norwood, my accommodation, the washing machines and tumble driers are on the fourth floor, so, armed with my Circuit laundry card, a couple of washing capsules, and, of course, my coffee, I headed to the lift. I put my washing on for its 50 minute cycle and headed across to the library.

'the close proximity of the washing machines means fashion choices just aren't an issue

'the close proximity of the washing machines means fashion choices just aren't an issue

You’re not allowed any food or drinks in the library, so, er, obviously, I wouldn’t have dreamt of taking my coffee in… I found an empty computer and set to work on my lab report, which took much of my focus and mental energy towards the end of the semester. I’m not sure how long I stayed and worked on this for, probably until I was on the verge of a little stress-cry or until my stomach began to rumble, but I headed back to Norwood pretty quickly, moving my laundry to a drier and went to my room, probably with a little stop in the kitchen for some food enroute.

As the end of the semester approached, I felt an urge to use up everything in my cupboards and freezer, and decided to make a food plan of what to eat each day in order to achieve this. I’m never usually this organised and I’ll admit I didn’t actually stick to this, but it’s a pretty good idea in terms of helping you work out what you need to buy, and prevent the inevitable ‘eating a daily share bag of crisps’ habit which I’d fallen into by about day 3.

My foodplan

My foodplan

Following on from this I decided to whip up some pasta sauce. A friend from home came to stay for a few nights during the last week, and so I wanted something easy for us to eat. As you can see, it looks awful, and we ended up buying something from the parade bar to avoid having to eat this bizarre concoction of ‘everything in my cupboards put into one saucepan’. Mmmmm.

What is even in here?!

What is even in here?!

I then returned to bed; a common theme in my life, and did some some more work. I probably had a nap here too, which is one of my favourite ways to fill the time between meals.

Later, my friend Lara and I decided to go for a walk. This is pretty much the only ‘hobby’ I’ve acquired at uni, as we both realise that we haven’t moved in several hours/days/potentially weeks and go for a stroll around campus. We’ve ended up in a field of cows, lost somewhere on the golf course behind campus, and, my favourite, stargazing with our other flatmates. This was a little less eventful, but we got to see the nice sky.

Taking a walk near campus

Taking a walk near campus

I haven’t documented my food consumption here but I would have had lunch, dinner, and many snacks, before heading over to one of the other kitchens on our floor. We usually hang out in each other’s rooms but if someone’s making dinner we’ll go to the kitchen, and tonight we were discussing housing for next year, which is a major source of stress! Thankfully we’ve now secured our house and paid our tenancy fees and deposits, but this was one of many stressed conversations. I think the empty vodka bottle on the table is somewhat symbolic.

As it was a Saturday night by about half 10 the sounds of Klass could be heard from the SU below. We had our usual ‘shall we go’ debate which this week was unsuccessful, probably as by this stage of the semester we all had about 9p to our name, and fairly soon went our separate ways. Ear plugs in I went to bed pretty soon. Crazy student life, right?

Laura x

 

Looking after yourself at university

  

📥  First year, Laura (Psychology)

I recently spotted this meme on social media:

Hmmm

This got me thinking about mental health and the way we think about it as a society. I’m not sure you can compare having the same mental health problem as someone to simply ‘thinking the same way you do’. Whilst I’m sure the post was meant light-heartedly, mental health problems affect a large proportion of the population on a day to day basis, and they’re no laughing matter.

Posts like this normalise seeing people with mental health problems as the stereotype of 'crazy' people in straight jackets, which puts people off of getting help. Suicide is the number one killer of men under 45, and 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems every year (mind.org.uk). NUS recently carried out a study into mental health at university, and found that 78% of students reported experiencing a mental health problem in the past year. This can be anything from depression, anxiety, stress or an eating disorder. I’m going to focus on what to do if you experience a mental health problem at the University of Bath.

Whilst feeding yourself lemsips to cope with freshers' flu is not particularly fun, it's much easier to neglect your mental health. The medical services on campus are pretty impressive; we’ve got our own GP surgery and dental surgery just a short, scenic walk from the centre of the parade. Student services are right in the middle of campus, near my beloved Fresh convenience store, and can help with pretty much anything; whether you’re struggling with your workload, feeling lonely or a bit depressed.

You can go to 4 W to a drop in and have a chat about what service would be best for you (find out more here on the Student Services webpages). If you think you’d benefit from speaking to a counsellor you can arrange this online. This is all free of charge and will fit around your timetable so that your studies don’t get interrupted.

Another service that the university offers is Nightline. It’s advertised all over campus, with leaflets in each kitchen. It’s a service which you can call for help and advice between 8pm and 8am every night. Whatever your problem, if you just need someone to talk to or some help or advice, there is always someone at the end of the phone who can help you. If you need something more urgent there’s 24/7 security in the library, too. They’re very helpful and have even taken me and a flatmate to A&E after she cut her chin open (don’t do the worm after drinking), and we have resident tutors who we can call, too.

Whilst all these services are amazing, sometimes it can just be a chat with your flatmates that helps the most. With mental health problems being so widespread they’re likely to have experienced something similar or know someone who has. If you’re panicking about a deadline or feeling too anxious to eat, let them know, and you can talk about it. But with so much help available there is no point keeping your worries and problems to yourself. You wouldn’t put off getting help if you’d hurt your leg or were having chest pains, so why would you ignore it when your brain needs help?!

Laura x

 

Lessons from my first semester

  

📥  First year, Laura (Psychology)

As Christmas draws ever closer, so does the end of semester one. It’s crazy that we’ve now done a big chunk of first year, but also crazy to think that I only moved into my accommodation 9 weeks ago today. So much has happened; our ‘pull’, ‘chunder’ and quote charts on the wall have becoming increasingly full and it’s strange how much has happened in less than 3 months. Looking back, here are things that I’ve learned, and which I think are very useful insights for prospective students.

1: Start working long before your deadline

Okay, this is the same instruction you’ve been receiving since your GCSE days. I’m actually good at this, which my friends often hate. I am that person who starts the work the day it’s set. I even had the embarrassment twice this term of being the first to submit assignments, and even worse attempting to submit something before the submission page had even been made. It’s not that I work particularly well, I just like to get it done. I like to do stuff when it’s fresh in my mind, and after seeing my friends attempting all nighters and stress crying the day before a deadline throughout sixth form (and to a lesser extent this term) I just haven’t wanted the stress! Try and do a little bit of work for each deadline once a day or every few days, and it’s much less stressful the night before when you can relax without feeling guilty.

Evidently early in the semester when raspberries and fresh fruit still fitted my budget

Evidently early in the semester when raspberries and fresh fruit still fitted my budget

2: Frozen food is your friend

I was very worried about cooking at uni and thought that I’d get bored and start eating pot noodles for every meal. Whilst there are a few lurking in the flat kitchen everyone has been cooking pretty inventive (and sometimes weird) meals, and I just want to stress that frozen food is your friend. Frozen peas?! Peng. Add them to anything and it’s basically a meal. Before uni I had no idea you could buy frozen sliced peppers (perfect for fajitas) or frozen chopped onions (perfect for basically everything). It makes cooking a meal from scratch sooo much easier- I can whip up a veggie Bolognese or some fajitas in a matter of minutes without the hassle of a chopping board or the rush to use vegetables before they go mouldy (honestly the stress is real). And ice cream is also frozen and an excellent food so overall 10/10 would recommend (though I’m using way too many freezer shelves so maybe don’t go to the extreme like me).

3: Move as much as you can

Being on campus has made my view of walking very warped. I went to visit a friend in London a few weeks into term and was shocked at the prospect of a half hour walk, before realising that’s a distance I walk regularly back home. It’s crazy, because on campus everything’s within about 7 minutes of you. I describe going to big Fresh as a ‘bit of a trek’, when in reality I can’t image having a shop that close to me at home. So I try to move as much as I can to compensate. I’ll admit I’m doing less exercise than I do at home, and combined with less walking and more comfort eating this could quickly get out of hand. So my flatmates and I regularly go for night walks around campus (the stars are beautiful!) and also utilise the free Zumba classes and free Olympic sized swimming pool. At the weekends I like to do a 5k morning run around the lake. The campus is so pretty that it doesn’t feel like a chore, and all of the endorphins are great!

It's harder to find the motivation when it's -1° outside

It's harder to find the motivation when it's -1° outside

4: Uni isn’t for everyone

There’s a statistic that says something like 5% of first year students drop outof university, and on my corridor of about 25 we’ve had 2 people leave. I was really surprised, although they both had their own reasons. Having a gap year definitely helped me to know I was ready to come to university, but I had also been considering it for a very long time. It’s a big step, a change to your home environment, but everyone’s in the same boat as you which makes it much less scary. If you’re having doubts try and think what’s causing them. I was very apprehensive because I didn’t think I’d make friends, now 9 weeks in I can’t imagine my life without them. The workload may seem daunting, but I swear I’m doing less than I did at A Level... which is probably very, very wrong.

5: Get involved with as much as you can

Just do everything. I really haven’t followed my own advice here; I stopped going to one society I joined and never found the room where the meetings for the other was. Which is sad. But I do this in different ways. You might join 10 clubs, start learning a new language and start a new sport. And that’s so great, and the perfect time to do it. But I get involved with everything my flat do, always try and attend any group activity we plan or arrange one myself. I go to Zumba classes which I never would at home, and I chat to people in the lift which I would always have previously avoided. Uni is a great opportunity to start over.

Ddecorating the flat ready for christmas

Ddecorating the flat ready for christmas

6: Do your washing up

Honestly. I cannot stress this enough. Be a good flatmate. Be tidy, be thoughtful. Don’t be too loud if you know people are trying to sleep, and please, just do your washing up. It’s so grim seeing piles of dirty dishes in your kitchen where you need to cook, and you’re all in it together. If you want to be gross you can even put your dirty plates in your cupboard (honestly way too many people do this) but just wash up after you cook. It’s really not that difficult. Please!

This photo hides a lot but I think you get the impression

This photo hides a lot but I think you get the impression

7: Start planning who you want to live with

It’s crazy how early you have to start picking, but in reality when you’ve lived with people 24/7 for a couple of months you know them soooo well it’s actually not too daunting to commit to living with them. You might find that you want to live with your flat mates, some people from your course, or even a combination of the two. But start planning early. We’re looking for a house for 6 (fingers crossed we’ve got one now) and they go so quickly; to start with every time we arranged a viewing we would get a call to say it had been rented before we even had a chance to look which is annoying. But be persistent, and the earlier you start looking the more choice you will have.

8: Budget

I try and avoid looking at my account balance as much as possible because it’s just too depressing. To start with I did a lot of retail therapy and ended up having to send a lot of it back because I just didn’t have the funds. Now I avoid even looking on the clothes shop websites (this was particularly difficult on Black Friday).

The first semester is expensive (see my previous blog post on life on a student budget) and Christmas has not helped, but I’ve had to start holding back… I mean, I definitely bought smoked salmon and avocado last week, but let’s overlook that. My original budget was £50 a week and I thought I’d spend way under, but that just hasn’t happened. I need to stop buying so much food and sooo many coffees really! But after my £25 on food each week (when I say my freezer is well stocked I mean I could feed the entire block for several weeks using its content alone), one night out ish (£5 club entry+£2.50 return bus fare+ an embarrassing amount on drinks and drunk food), multiple coffees, Christmas presents and then just random things like laundry, it’s not looking good. I have started to refrain a bit, and I’ll extend this in the second semester. If you can refrain from buying rounds, and try to come up with a feasible amount to spend each week, it makes life much easier.

Normal student breakfast, right...?

Normal student breakfast, right...?

9: Chat to people on your course

This is another case of not really taking my own advice, but after making good friends in my flat I kind of didn’t bother chatting to people on my course. It wasn’t until I went to lecture without the other two girls doing psychology on my floor that I realised I didn’t really know anyone else on my course. Luckily group work has helped this and I’ve met some lovely people through that, but it wasn’t until our first course social that I properly initiated interaction. And everyone is great! I felt a bit stupid not bothering sooner, but I now have friends in both my flat and on my course which is nice. We have a group chat for the whole of the psychology course which is also great when everyone’s panicking over a deadline. Safety in numbers right?

I didn't bother finding other friends when I had all of these

I didn't bother finding other friends when I had all of these

10: Don’t go home too much

To start with the temptation is real. I missed roast dinners, beach walks and baths sooo much during the first few weeks. And a few of my flatmates did go home for the weekend really early on, but I just wouldn’t recommend it. The first few weeks are pretty poignant; you’re still getting to know each other and I just think these initial nights out and socialising are crucial. It helps you work out who you’ll probably be friends with and is just a great opportunity to make memories with people. You can’t laugh as hard at a story of a night out if you weren’t there to see it. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go home at all; I went home after 4 weeks in an attempt to recover from freshers’ flu and it worked. But I could see how it could definitely make people homesick, and if you’re feeling a bit like that I think it’s best to stick it out. Chat to your flatmates, join a new club, get involved with stuff. You’re not missing anything at home, not really, and with uni being around 30 weeks a year you’ll still be back there a lot!

So  those are my top ten tips! I’ve honestly loved my first semester despite my initial fear that I’d hate it, and I can’t wait to come back after Christmas and to live in a house with my friends next year! So if you’re feeling a little apprehensive don’t worry, and hopefully these tips will help!

Laura x

 

Campus: coffee shop and study space tour

  

📥  First year, Laura (Psychology)

As a keen participant of café culture, I’ve been eager to try out the coffee shops on campus since arriving. My budget has not. But with deadlines looming I’ve been getting very bored of sitting in my room on my bed doing work, and as my coffee abilities could be compared to a toddler’s I felt something needed to be done. So, with an eager flatmate in tow (thank you Lara), I embarked on a coffee shop tour of campus.

First stop: Starbucks

I’m not a massive fan of the chain; it’s pretty expensive compared to its rivals and there was that whole avoiding taxes thing. But hey, I’m willing to forget that for a decent hot chocolate. And even better; I can get to Starbucks from my bed without going outside. What’s not to love on a cold, rainy day?!

A nice seasonal cup and I even have a word document open (which looks suspiciously blank...)

A nice seasonal cup and I even have a word document open (which looks suspiciously blank...)

Based in the SU, Starbucks is busy and vibrant. We went at about 1.30pm and there were loads of people meeting for lunch, studying with friends or utilising the pool tables. This doesn’t sound like the ideal work environment, I know, but the background noise gave it a nice buzz. We found some bar stall like seats, conveniently located by a plug, and got to work.

The drinks are much cheaper than the usual stores as we’re on campus which is nice for my purse, and I had a soya hot chocolate which was good. Would definately recommend. However; as it is so popular if you get distracted easily I’d recommend headphones if you want to study. However it’s so busy that there’s a nice atmosphere and it’s just a fun chilled-out place. As it’s located in the on-campus club it’s also entertaining to think/cringe at the thought of stupid things you’ve done on nights out where you’re now sitting studying.

Good: Prices, location, background noise
Bad: Can be difficult to get a seat

The Edge Café

The very next day we set off again. I was very excited to go to The Edge Café; I’m a big fan of independent cafes and from walking past a couple of times it looked really cute. We sat down at a big wooden table and started our work. I ordered myself a caramel latte without looking at the price list; its was 65p to add syrup to a coffee which seemed a bit extortionate to me, but hey, it was good. They have a huge cake and sandwich selection which all looked delicious, and it seems like a nice, relaxed place to work.

On my visit there was nice background music which was good to study to. My only issues were the lack of plugs (a common theme at Uni to be honest) which was a bit annoying as my friend’s laptop was running low. The big table was very useful though for spreading all my work out, and there was even a nice little plant on the table. We also sat by the door which was a bad choice as there was an annoying draught. Sorry to sound about 80, but actually when discussing it with other flatmates, they’d noticed it too.

We went at around 4.30 and it was busy but nothing like Starbucks. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood to work anyway, but I couldn’t concentrate very well because it was quiet enough that I could listen to other people’s conversations and get distracted. Definitely bring headphones. Other than that, very nice. Feels very much like you’ve left campus as it seemed to have a lot of visitors/lecturers in there having a drink which was nice.

Good: Attention to detail of decorations, food, ambience
Bad: Lack of plugs, a bit cold near the door

The Limetree

For this trip I abandoned Lara. My current deadlines involve a couple of group projects and little motivation, so my group and I arranged to meet in the Limetree in an attempt to make our work slightly more enjoyable. It’s definitely a lot nicer than meeting in one of our kitchens (wouldn’t be surprised to find a bit of old food stuck to my laptop if I risked putting it on a student halls’ kitchen table). Anyway, back to The Limetree.

I felt a bit silly taking photos of The Limetree in front of my group, but I assure you it's great!

I felt a bit silly taking photos of The Limetree in front of my group, but I assure you it's great!

limetree

Right by the bus stop, The Limetree is a big restaurant with loads of different cuisines. Whilst I’d ideally go to one of the booths to sit, the restaurant’s popularity means that I’ve had to settle for a table every time I’ve visited. Even so, I would definately recommend it. It’s bright, the tables are big and spacious and the music is good. I forgot to assess the plug situation which may have impacted on my opinion had my laptop had less battery. On Mondays to Thursdays from 8-8.30 you can take your own food container and fill it up for £2.50; our flat regularly attempt to fill the biggest containers possible in an attempt to feed ourselves for the week. I’m yet to sample the drinks but I’ve heard good things about the flat whites, which are cheaper than The Edge but don’t come with the complimentary cookie, and the bar there serves a local Bath ale, described as ‘the best beer I’ve had since I got here’.

I’m not sure what it is about it exactly, but I’m a big fan of the Limetree.

Good: Cheap food, good music, big tables
Bad: Potential lack of plugs, food is distracting

4West

After a few days without a café trip, Lara and I headed out to 4West. The weather has been awful for the last few days and after running across The Parade under her umbrella I rushed to the till to get a drink. They have a particularly impressive selection; seasonal special drinks, offering to add mocha shots to drinks etc., and I settled for a soya vanilla chai latte; one of my favourite drinks which none of our other cafes have offered. It was £2.25 so a similar price to our other visits, and as you can see had a nice Christmas cup. It wasn’t very hot though, but after working in hospitality I refuse to be the kind of person who returns a coffee to get it reheated. So, I bravely drank it anyway.

4West is very popular which has put me off visiting in the past. But it’s busy for a reason; it’s really good. We managed to grab the last table (I felt very guilty as some girl wandered around aimlessly clutching a tray of food- oops) and started our work. At this current moment my laptop is on 16%, so the plug situation here will need to be assessed. It’s not looking promising, which is a shame. Apart from that it was ticking a lot of boxes. We’ve gone for a standard table but there are loads of low ones with comfy sofas. They also offer a wide range of food with loads of options for different diets which I’m always a fan of. Service is quick and they’ve even got some Christmas lights and a tree. No background music but a similar buzz to Starbucks so you don’t need it (unless you’re sat near interesting people and can’t help listening to their conversation, then headphones would be a good idea).

Good: Menu, chair selection, Christmas deocrations
Bad: Cold drink, lack of plugs

That brings our coffee shop tour to an end. Campus does have a number of other food outlets; the Fountain Canteen and Parade Bar especially should not be ignored. However; my budget isn’t really coping with these almost daily trips which I tell myself are essential. Nowhere on campus was even near bad, and I’d recommend a visit to all for somewhere different to study. They certainly beat the silent floor of the library in my opinion, where I attempted to open a packet of dried mango and felt like I was risking being killed by the people on the computers near me. As much as I’ve enjoyed these study spaces however, bed comes with the clear advantage that you can stay in your pyjamas. Which, as term goes on, is increasingly tempting…

Laura x

 

Freshers' Week: new home, new friends, and lots to do

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

I, unlike many of my friends and much to my parents’ disappointment, was not enthusiastic about coming to Uni. Not at all. In fact, as my family’s car turned round a corner and the iconic “Welcome to Bath University” sign came into view I started to beg my dad to turn around. He refused, but as we unpacked my stuff, as I arranged it in my room, as I smiled nervously at my flat mates etc. etc. I did so with the intention of getting back into the car with my parents and going home that evening. Which I kept telling my mum, who I could see getting increasingly nervous at the prospect. After already having a year out I think she was starting to panic that they would never get rid of me. But now, less than 2 weeks in, they’re going to be begging me to come home. No exaggeration. I’m more surprised than anyone but I really, really like it here, and by about a week in I started to notice myself referring to my little Norwood flat as ‘home’.

My new home in Norwood House

My new home in Norwood House

If you don’t have the pre-uni “what if no one likes me” fear then you’re some kind of social wizard. I was not actually worried that I would make no friends, oh no; I was just 100% certain that I wouldn’t. I started to think I might not even try; 4 years with no human contact was surely achievable. But within a couple of hours of arriving I realised to my horror that in order to obtain the food my mum had put into the kitchen cupboards I would have to leave my room. And with leaving my room came actual interaction with people. People I didn’t know. Within about 5 minutes my appetite had won. It didn’t get off to the best start; as I joined my flat mates in the kitchen and everyone shared their room number I misheard and thought we were saying our ages… I couldn’t work out why no one was reacting to the fact that one of my flat mates was 12. Classic me. But once I’d cleared up this misunderstanding everything was good.

Everyone was really, really nice. This came as a bit of a shock to be honest- I’d been certain that my housemates were probably a group of sociopaths who’d already started planning how they could ruin my life. But hey, no signs of that yet. I did discover that my entire flat had been communicating on a Facebook group chat for the last few months which I had somehow manage to miss (not quite the social media whizz I thought I was) and I was momentarily panicked that they would therefore all be best friends. As it happened, whilst a nice tool to prevent fear before you leave home, those Facebook group chats don’t really affect your uni experience, so don’t get too caught up in them. People are so different in person that you might get completely the wrong impression of them from social media, just wait to meet them!

Meeting some new faces during Freshers' Week

Meeting some new faces during Freshers' Week

Freshers’ Week was such an experience. I’d heard mixed things from friends; that it was all a bit overrated, that you got bored after a couple of nights etc. etc. but I ended up loving it! My health did not- I am typing this with a tissue wedged up my nose because I cannot deal with how much it’s running. Anyone passing Norwood please chuck me a lemsip. But anyway, Bath put on so many amazing events that whatever you’re into there was something to do. There was free pizza and board games night with other people from your course, a silent disco, dressing up in a toga and even the likes of Greg James and Russell Howard (which I missed and may never get over- I did see 3 Ainsley Harriotts though so can’t complain) and those are just a teeny tiny selection of what was on.

It was a brilliant week and there is no better way to bond with your flat mates and the other people in your building than over a game of ‘never have I ever’ or going out for a hungover brunch.

Brunch

Brunch: the perfect hangover cure

 

Life on a student budget: adapting from a gap year to supermarket own-brands

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📥  Laura (Psychology)

I wasn’t sure what to expect regarding my financial situation at Uni. With my student loan not quite covering my accommodation costs (I mean, that’s a bit of an understatement; it’s £600 less than my termly fees so not a great start and I'm not even in Quads) I was ready to embrace a life of total poverty. Thankfully my parents are helping out; if they weren’t I’d definitely be scrounging my flatmates’ food (even more than I do already), and after spending summer virtually living at my old job I do thankfully have some money to live on!

After 4 months travelling and living on a budget of £15 a day including accommodation I thought I’d be pretty good at budgeting but, as usual, I was wrong. I am in a permanent state of ‘treating myself’ at virtually every opportunity; retail therapy is essentially my only hobby and I’ve found myself buying necessities such as constant supplies of new make-up and chocolate a little too often... I’ve watched my account balance steadily declining and my only source of comfort is knowing that one of my flat mates has already overspent to the point where he has to do all of his food shopping at pound land. Times aren’t that tough just yet, but they are getting close.

In my defence, the first few months are particularly expensive. Freshers’ Week kicks it off pretty well; rounds of shots are a good bonding method with new flat mates and hungover me enjoys regular trips to Fresh (the on-campus supermarket) to stock up on snacks for the day ahead. One particular morning of freshers I’d eaten a share bag of crisps and 4 bread rolls before 10am. Pretty impressive to say the least, and to be fair it only set me back £2! One perk of freshers, though, in terms of budget is that I did save a fair bit of money in the weeks following simply because I had freshers’ flu. I missed a grand total of 5 nights out in the 2 weeks I was virtually bed bound, and with club entry in town averaging £6 this made life considerably cheaper. But I also felt as though I had the plague so this wasn’t a money saving technique I’d recommend regularly taking on.

Aside from these initial nights out, societies have upfront joining costs which need to be accounted for when budgeting. Sports ones have a standard £30 fee, so unless you’re in a position where you’re able to do so it probably isn’t wise to sign up to everything you see. I’m not a very sporty person (I feel like that comes across from my constant references to food), but I decided to sign up to Latin and ballroom because it just seemed like a good time to start something completely new! The joining fee is also motivation to actually go which is pretty good, as well as all the other benefits like meeting people and actually leaving my bed for a while each week. Non sports societies are around £5 or so, I’ve joined Amnesty International and will eventually go if I manage to find the room it’s held in (navigation is not my strong point). So even though I’m not doing a ton of activities for more adventurous people, these upfront costs are pretty steep and something to bear in mind when you’re planning your initial budget.

The gym is considerably more, though; I think a year’s membership is in the £270 region. This isn’t expensive when you think of it in terms of a weekly price or per visit and it’s pretty standard compared to gyms where I live at home, as well as having all the state of the art equipment, Netflix on the machines etc. But I mean, anything over about £3 just doesn’t interest me (or my student budget). The sports’ centre is pretty handy though because there are really good gym classes for £3 ish, there’s a free indoor swimming pool and running tracks which are great alternatives if you’re not sure you can commit to the gym but still want to keep fit. And my flat mates (who are just so cute) also go for group walks and jogs which is so convenient and also fun, and campus is so pretty it’s nice to explore it a bit (only when I’m ready to get out of bed though).

Who needs a treadmill when campus is this pretty?

Who needs a treadmill when campus is this pretty?

Food shopping is pretty weird. I have a ton of dietary requirements (I’m technically a dairy free pescetarian but ‘fussy eater’ will also suffice) and so my parents have always given me a lot of freedom buying my own food, but somehow moving to Uni has meant that I spend the same as the 3 or 4 of us would spend on a weekly shop by myself… To start with I justified it because it was my first shop and I was buying stuff in bulk, but 5 weeks in this has continued to be the case. My brain needs fuelling I guess??? And who can say no to a packet of biscuits (or 5) every now and then.

A rare sighting of a well stocked cupboard after a food delivery

A rare sighting of a well stocked cupboard after a food delivery

I do a big food shop delivery every 10 days or so with a couple of girls in my flat, so we end up paying like £1 delivery each which I’d much rather do than trek across town with bags of food shopping. My ‘top up’ shops in Fresh, which frequently consist purely of junk food, probably don’t help my budget either, but hey, I’m adapting, right? I do cook pretty economically, though; I bulk made a veggie Bolognese, curry, risotto and a couple of pasta bakes so my freezer is always stocked if I can’t find the motivation to cook something from scratch, and it stops me reaching for the Domino’s menu- I’d recommend this if you’re frequently surrounded by empty pizza boxes.

Gone are the days of branded soft drinks

Gone are the days of branded soft drinks

Another big expenditure is travel. Within Bath it’s really not bad; the buses are around £1.50 for a single and £2.50 for a return which is amazing on a night out or shopping trip and a lot cheaper than in my hometown of Bournemouth. Getting home and to visit friends at other unis is a different matter, however. Rail cards are pretty much an essential- I think Santander gives away a free one if you open a student bank account with them (I didn’t) but I bought mine using Tesco club card vouchers, but even if you pay full price you’ll earn the money back quickly anyway. I’d recommend buying off peak returns for trains because plans change and they give you the freedom of returning any time within a month. If you buy a couple of weeks in advance they’re generally cheaper, especially if you travel on a weekday, and if they’re still looking extortionate coaches are a decent alternative although they do take a bit longer. I actually managed to do work on one the other day though which I considered to be a massive achievement.

A lot of students get student jobs, too. My parents were very much against me doing this because I’m very good at getting distracted and would probably sign up to work full time somewhere in town, forgetting that I am actually in Bath to do a degree… But yeah, the benefits of living in a city are that there are plenty of shops and restaurants in the city centre hiring, as well as loads on campus. From working at Fresh or the Limetree restaurant to showing people around Uni on open days, or hey, writing blog posts for prospective students (reserved only for the coolest of students, obviously), if you do find yourself in a situation where your bank account can’t keep up with the lifestyle you’re accustomed to this is always an option. But I’d give it a few weeks to check you’re managing your workload okay before committing yourself to too many hours!

So yeah, that’s the current state my finances are in. I’m not quite in the poverty I anticipated thanks to saving a lot beforehand and being careful (ish) when I can be. I am still awaiting my contactless transactions to come up on my bank statement from the last few days, however, so I may take that statement back pretty soon. Obvious things like not buying too many drinks in night clubs and bars, getting buses rather than taxis are just common sense and while the stereotype of poor students is fairly accurate money isn’t something to worry about too much. There are plenty of bursaries available and your loan is dependent on your parents’ incomes so don’t start panicking; you won’t just be thrown into uni with no money. I’m still adapting to life on a budget where I’m responsible for buying things for myself (the shower gel bottles don’t just refill themselves???) but it’s all an experience and all your flat mates are in a similar position. I recently had to lend a friend money because she checked her account and found she only had £1.53, but hey, it’s a learning curve and adapting is pretty much unavoidable so hey, just embrace it (and Christmas is coming up; maybe this year’s list can include fun things like shampoo and pasta).

Laura x