Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Posts By: Matthew

Applying for a year abroad

  

📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

There are certain expectations that you should set for yourself if you're planning to go to university.

  1. Someone will always steal your milk and not own up to it
  2. You will often be faced with the choice of going to your 9:15am lecture or sleeping in
  3. You are going to spend most of your Christmas holidays studying for January exams.

Personally, the third one is holding true at the moment but this year I am also in the midst of applying for placements for my year abroad. As part of my International Management & Modern Languages (French) degree, or FIMML for short, I spend my third year in France. I have 12 months abroad and this can be spent in any of the following combinations:

  1. 12 months placement
  2. 12 months in a French business school
  3. 6 months placement / 6 months business school.

For anyone who is considering applying to France, it is worth noting that the French government has just brought in a law which restricts placements to 6 months maximum within any organisation. In order to spend 12 months in a French placement, it is now necessary to apply for two separate 6 month placements in different departments of the same company or different companies altogether. My cohort is the first to experience this new law and therefore it will be interesting to see how it all plays out!

Preparation

From the offset, our year abroad officer, Ninon, has been brilliant in preparing us for our applications. I will not get bogged down in the details of the preparation but if you attend all her presentations which will be scheduled into your timetable, you will be ready to start applying. In terms of learning to write French CVs and cover letters, this will be dealt with in your french seminars but it is coordinated between Ninon and the seminar tutors. For this reason, I would say it is crucial that you do not skip any of your French seminars in 2nd year.

Ninon's presentations have included:

  • A presentation on all the different business schools
  • Advice on applying for placements
  • Organised meetings with 4th year students who have just returned from their year abroad, and much more.

All of this information has helped me to make an informed decision on how I want to spend my year abroad and I'm going to attempt to apply for two 6 months placements. I've actually just submitted my first application and am now moving onto my second so let's discuss that and see how straightforward it was.

If you want to go to a business school, it acts like an exchange. Uni of Bath takes some of their students and in return they take some of ours. There are a number of prestigious French business schools which you can apply to including multiple ones in Paris, Strasbourg and Nancy. You'll be inserted into one of the business courses and complete your modules in French. These marks are then converted and added to your degree at Bath. I had the pleasure of visiting Nancy last June and it is a beautiful city in the east of France. I was also in Strasbourg train station however, I'm not sure if that counts.

Nancy Ville, France

Nancy Ville, France

Applying

Around November, companies will start making placements available to apply for. These will be sent to your year abroad officer and they will then post them on Moodle. Moodle is an online service which every university student has access to with their online login details. It also contains all your course and module resources. Once on Moodle, you can download the job advertisement, see the application deadline, see who you need to send your applications to etc.

My first application was to a company called Thales. They're a huge global company, specialising in defense, aerospace and security and all those sorts of things. Thales, like many other companies will have a good relationship with University of Bath because of our fantastic reputation. As a result, some of the placements advertised will be exclusively for University of Bath students which reduces the competition to your cohort.

Some applications will ask you for a CV and cover letter in French or English. I chose to send both in french because the next step will be a Skype interview in french. My logic is that if I have already submitted two documents in good French, my interviewers will already have faith that I can write well in french on the chance that I stumble with my french in the interview. It is worth bearing in mind that most companies will appreciate that you are not yet fluent and the point of the year abroad will be to become fluent in french so there is some leeway (apparently). Still, you want to impress them right?

Another useful tip is to try and get into contact with any Bath students who have either had a placement with the company or are currently on placement with the company. I am really lucky because I actually have a friend who is on her year abroad with Thales at the moment. Well, I use the word friend. To her I'm probably just the annoying Irish kid who is constantly begging for help with his CV at 2am (3am in Paris). If you're reading this, I'm sorry but also thank you. Yeah. Moving swiftly on.

So I typed up my cover letter which was one page long; I tweaked my CV to make it specific to the role I was applying to and I emailed it to Thales. It was right before the Christmas holidays so I don't expect a reply for a little while. However, I'm going to send another one tomorrow and hope that I get an interview for at least one of them. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to spending time with my dog. It is Christmas day after all. Happy Holidays!

My Dog 

 

Deadlines: 99 Problems and they're all due by Friday

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📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

The first thing I should say here is that I haven't actually got 99 problems and I don't actually have any deadlines set for Friday. I do have one for Tuesday but "I have one assignment and it's due on Tuesday" is more of a small talk conversation starter than a thought provoking blog title. No matter, it is what it is.

I have however just come out of an incredibly intense four weeks in which I was pushed to the limit in terms of trying to balance university studies with everything else. This has led me to ask if trying to balance too much is worth it, what the drawbacks are and what is the best way to cope in situations where you feel like you're drowning in work.

I started off this semester by resigning from my part time job at a local restaurant in Bath with the plan of focussing 100% on my studies and relaxing this year. I've worked part time with my studies since I was 15 and I'd decided it was time for a year to just study. This all went down the drain less than a week later when I received an unexpected email from a very well known technology company, inviting me to attend an interview for a position in their store - I really couldn't say no.

By the end of October, I'd managed to secure a job within the company and went on to begin working in one of their stores which for the first few weeks was incredibly demanding because I had so much to learn and do - I was spending on average 45 hours per week there for the month of November before I resumed normal contracted hours at the beginning of December.

On top of the 45 hours at work, I had to make sure I attended all of my lectures which involved some very creative time management. I had multiple coursework deadlines due throughout November along with a number of mid term assessments. So how did I try to manage this and what were the drawbacks?

Staying on Top of Coursework & Assessments

The key to staying well on top of coursework is to start it as early as possible. Most courses will give you your coursework assignments in the first couple of weeks and as soon as you know the questions, you can begin to get some books and start reading about it at the start of semester before you get too busy.

I'm really not a nerdy person - I usually facilitate watching Netflix all day by setting myself personal deadlines for a week or two before the actual deadline and force myself to have my essays finished by then. Just before my crazy four weeks, I realise that I needed to get on top of things early so I went home to Northern Ireland for 4 days. In the 4 days, I completed two essays by dedicating two full days to each and not allowing myself to return to Bath without two essays ready for submission. I find this tactic of doing loads of research and blasting the essay out in a couple of days is often a good one. It stops you dragging out one essay for a few weeks. It also lets you quickly check a whole task off your long list of things to do and this will majorly reduce your stress levels - make sure you do adequate research before starting though!

With two essays already ready to go before I'd even started working, that left me to organise my calendar and schedule in specific times to prepare for my 4 assessments and write my remaining essay. I found that having an incredibly precise daily calendar allowed me to keep on track by knowing exactly what I was doing and when. I'd usually prepare this a day in advance and it looked something like this for a few weeks:

My busy schedule

My busy schedule

Drawbacks

As you can see from the calendar picture above, I didn't really have much of a social life over those few weeks but at the same time, I was making a lot of new friends in the training for my new job so there was a social side to that in some respects. I also missed out on things like going to the gym which I usually do quite regularly to relax which was a definite drawback.

I found that the most important thing was making sure that I got adequate sleep because if you get out of a regular sleeping pattern, it becomes incredibly difficult to catch up. That meant strict bed times and wake up times. I tried to set aside an hour at the end of every day before going to sleep where I could just chill and watch some TV or see some friends but it didn't always happen.

There were multiple times where I felt like there was no end in sight and the lack of free time often made it feel like days were just running into one another.

Is it worth it?

I think that for anyone who tries to get involved in extracurricular activities at university, there is always going to be a point where you're going to be biting off more than you can chew and sometimes you are going to have a couple of really intense weeks where you maybe don't get to do all the things you'd usually do.

Whilst I wouldn't recommend taking on so much that you constantly find yourself too busy to cope, I would say that there are times where you just need to roll up your sleeves, have a few late nights and get your head down for a few weeks. It's important that you stay on top of work and have a clear plan about how you're going to keep on top of everything and have a time in the future that you're working towards where you know you can finally relax.

"There is no substitute for hard work" (Thomas Edison)

 

Joining Uni of Bath in September? What to expect...

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📥  Matt, School of Management

Congratulations! You made it to this blog post, and so there's a good chance you have been accepted into the University of Bath. We're ranked 5th in the UK according to the Guardian for this academic year so you can sit back and relax - you've made it into a great Uni with brilliant staff and some of the country's brightest  students and you're one of them. No pressure.

Whether you've completed IB, A levels or BTEC, Uni is probably the beginning of your adult life. You know how a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly? Well university is where you are transformed from an annoying school kid who thinks they know it all into a respectable member of society who pays their taxes, lives in the suburbs and has a Labrador. But first things first:

Arrivals Weekend & Freshers

Arrivals weekend is fast approaching and if you're like me, you're probably super excited to move into your own room and meet all your new friends, and so you should be! I arrived first thing on the Saturday which was great because I got to meet everyone as they arrived. I also got first pick of the cupboards in the kitchen. If you've seen Pitch Perfect, you may remember the scene at the start where the protagonist is arriving on campus and as she walks through there's loads of stands and cool kids and that girl moving in with about 300 teddy bears. Fully expect that to be the case when you arrive.

Don't be nervous or afraid - everyone is in the exact same boat as you.

Saying "Hello"

Chances are you've already been talking to some of your flatmates and course mates on Facebook. I'd already spoken to most of my flat before I got to Bath so it's a good ice-breaker if you can make a bit of conversation, but don't worry if you don't. You won't be able to make a proper impression until you've actually spent some time with your flatmates and impressions often change over time as everyone becomes more comfortable and more like themselves anyway. And you will be closer to some flat mates than others - that's just how it works.

Doing Things

Rule #1 of arrivals and freshers - do things. Do everything. Get involved! There is so much to do and so many free things being given away. There should be an online Freshers' Week timetable provided by the Students' Union but it only includes the main events. You can find loads of info on Freshers week here. If you're at a loose end go and explore the campus with your new friends and you will find loads of things to do. There will be a number of opportunities to attend the Freshers' Fair. This is a great opportunity to explore all the clubs and societies that the University of Bath has to offer from sports societies to the Cheese & Wine society if that's what floats your boat. A full list of societies can be found here.

There will also be a departmental specific timetable for Freshers' Week which will include a lot of introductory sessions which are really useful in terms of getting to know more about university life.  This will be made available to you online from your department. Not everything will be compulsory but everything will be worthwhile.

It's obviously an emotional time for saying goodbye to your parents who you may not see again for another 3 months but it's really important that you do make time to spend with your new friends.

You may also find some romances developing within your flat group. This is strictly prohibited among most flat groups but like all rules, it was made to be broken. It is particularly common during Freshers' Week and if it continues after this, you will often find that people refuse to put a label on it to avoid "complications" if things go wrong. If you find yourself in a flat romance, just try to keep it secret for as long as possible but don't kid yourself - people will eventually find out and they will feed off the drama like drama vampires.

Your First Week of Lectures- what to expect

Much like during school, the first class of any module will generally be an introduction to the course. Your lecturers and seminar tutors will often outline their plan for the semester and discuss the sorts of topics that you will be covering. They will also inform you as to the methods of examination and assessment - this may be written coursework; an individual or group presentation and of course, exams.

It is important to make a note of your coursework deadline in the first week and plan a time in the semester to start it because unlike school, you are not spoon fed. Your lecturer's will rarely advise you to start your coursework at any time and may not mention it again until after the deadline has passed. However, if you have any questions about it you can email them for guidance or talk to them after a lecture. They will rarely tell you what you can write but they can give you general advice to help you understand the question. They may also be able to guide you to useful resources such as library books.

These introduction lectures can be a little tedious. However, even if a lot of the information given may seem of little importance there will be key points on coursework and expectations that it will be important to take note of.

During the second week, you will dive straight into learning. Lectures are completely different from school and they're loads better. You can take your laptop to take notes and if you really want to, you can just sit on Facebook for 2 hours but this will be of no benefit to you in the long run. On one occasion during a statistics lecture, the lesson started off talking about mean, median and mode. Of course, I decided that this was a pointless exercise; opened up my Macbook and started playing that game on Sporcle where you have 15 minutes to name all the countries in the world. Bad idea. After I'd named about 87 countries and couldn't remember how to spell Kazakhstan, I reverted my attention to the board which was now filled with difficult algebraic formula which I did not understand at all.

From this day, I made a personal rule to avoid bringing my laptop to lectures. However, if you have more self discipline than I do then you may find the assistance of technology invaluable in the classroom.

To stay on track, the best thing to do is to plan a time to read through each lecture again shortly after the original. Some lecturers make a great use of a service called Panopto. This software records lectures. It has a video camera which records the lecturer but it also records the lecturer's computer monitor so you can see any powerpoints or videos they may show alongside it. This is an incredibly useful revision tool if you need to refer back to a specific lecture where you don't remember something.

Online Resources

To make the most of your time at university, there are 3 main web resources available to you as a student which you will use on a daily basis.

Moodle

Moodle is an online portal where you can log in with your Bath ID and you will find links to all the modules in your course. Here, lecturers will put up resources for each lecture. This may include powerpoints to accompany the lecture, practice questions and answers and extra reading material that they may want you to read over. My economics lecturer always posted links to funny and interesting podcasts relevant to the lecture.

Most subjects also put online multiple choice quizzes on Moodle. These are a fantastic way to revise as they grade you each time and give you feedback on your answers, often explaining why you may have chosen the wrong answer.

Webmail

Webmail is your university email address. This will become your professional email address for the next 4 years so if you apply for placements or other such things, I'd advise using this. You can view it online, and there are instructions on the University of Bath website on how to access webmail via your phone or computer's email application if you prefer using applications over the web, which is what I chose to do.

It is important to check your emails a few times every day because important information from lecturer's and heads of department will be communicated to you via this method. One girl in my flat never checked her emails and one month later realised that she'd missed meetings with her personal tutor and director of studies; vital information for coursework and also rescheduled seminars!

SAMIS

SAMIS is where you can go online and view a few specific pieces of information and carry out certain tasks such as viewing grades, uploading copies of your passport and also receiving important information about your university application - bursaries, scholarships and registration information.

Other Essential Advice

Last October I wrote a blog post detailing my advice to Freshers. In it I included loads of things that I experienced first hand during my first month at University. It is full of even more advice for anyone joining us at Bath this September! And of course if you have questions that aren't answered by this blog, you can post a comment and I will reply personally.

So it's time to go back to work. I'm writing this blog on A level  results day and today I'm working in the admissions call centre for the university. If you've called us today with questions about your place or application there's a good chance we may have had a chat already! So good luck, and I'll see you in September!

#gotintobath

 

Personal Statement... where do you start?

  

📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Matt, School of Management

If you are starting to think about applying to university in September then you will probably be starting to think about (and hopefully not panic about!) your UCAS personal statement.

Writing a personal statement is somewhat like beginning to write a blog post - you have no idea how to start it and next thing you know, it's your deadline day and you write the first thing that comes into your head. That's what I'm doing right now and yes, it makes a pretty witty start to this blog post but if you do the same thing with your personal statement, it probably won't work. And if it does work, you should probably forget about Uni and just jump straight into being an author, write a good book, make millions and retire at 35.

When it comes to your personal statement, you need to dedicate the time and effort that it deserves because even if you can get 4 A*s the person with the same grades and a cracking personal statement may take your university place from you, so here's some advice!

Introduction

First impressions count, even on paper - your introduction should be short but effective. I know some people who start using quotes, others who suggested ideas that they had relating to the course they wanted to study. I wanted to study French and International Management so I used a bit of both by saying:

"If I asked you to think of the greatest invention of all time, what would you imagine?

I believe that it is language and the ability to communicate with other people."

Writing about your Choice of Course

After this it is good to talk about why you chose the course you're applying for. Things you should think about are:

  • Why you enjoy the subject
  • Is there a particular aspect that you are interested in?
  • Do you look forward to studying the subject in greater depth?
  • Did your work experience confirm your interest?
  • Do you have a particular career in mind and why do you want to follow it?

Writing about your work experience

This is a good opportunity to show the university how your work experience has confirmed your interest in your area of study. It is also an opportunity for you to list any skills that you may have had a chance to develop, such as:

  • Communication
  • Team work
  • Independent work
  • Computer literacy
  • Managing others
  • Working to deadlines
  • Diplomacy
  • Problem solving

If you have had a work experience placement through your school or college that has nothing at all to do with the course you are applying for, don't worry! If you want to, you can talk about how your work experience affirmed that you did not want to work in that area. If this is the case, be sure to state something that affirms the choice of course you are making now!

Writing about your school / college experience

In this section, you should concentrate on your most recent years of study as experiences you gained when you were 13 are not as relevant as your more recent experiences. You should use this section to show the university that you are able to cope with the pressures of studying at university. Things you should show you are:

  • Self-motivated
  • Self-disciplined
  • Sociable
  • Independent
  • Able to strike a balance between work and relaxation

Writing about your extra-curricular activities

For most people, the vast majority of relative experiences will be gained within school and college but if there is something that you have achieved or experienced outside school that you feel is relevant, you should mention it here. This can be anything from hobbies to part time work or maybe a club you are part of outside of school or perhaps a sporting involvement.

Conclusion

You should use this last, short paragraph to sell yourself one last time. Bring the reader back to your choice of degree or your ability to be successful at university. It is important to present yourself as someone who will be able to take care of themselves at university. Do not be tempted to mention why you want to go to a certain university as this may prejudice any other universities that you have selected.

Final Tips

  1. Make sure your spelling and punctuation is perfect. Get someone to proof read it for you.
  2. If you have a reference writer, work with them. Plan it so that you are both saying different things. This way you maximise the amount of content you can include. If you both spend time talking about the same thing, it’s a waste of characters.
  3. Do not have unnecessary repetition
  4. Do not confuse self-confidence with empty boasting - they'll just think you're a spanner.
  5. Avoid negative words like "bad, fault, fail, hate"
  6. At the end of every sentence, ask yourself, "So what?" This will help you to make sure that you haven't wasted any characters. Every single sentence should give the university one more reason to want you.

So go and do it. Don't stress out. You will redraft it about 400 times. You will probably drink 476 cups of coffee. Just try not to miss the January deadline.

Good luck!

What do you with 4 months of summer?

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📥  Matt, School of Management

It's May and that means one thing for any student whether you're doing your A levels or your degree - it's cramming time. It's time to catch up on all the work you didn't do during the year because you had better things to do like watch boxsets and spend all your time on Yik Yak. (If you're an A level student you haven't got Yik Yak yet, download it from your phone's app store. It's probably more essential for university than your student loan). Also, if you're a wannabe University of Bath you should check out "Best of Uni of Bath Yik Yak" on Facebook.

I just finished my Accounting exam which I don't think went awfully. My income statement & balance sheet didn't balance by over £300,000 but when you're dealing in millions, what's a couple of thousand here and there? But no seriously, it should have gone alright. In a week my exams will have finished and so begins university summer which for you non-university students means 4 months of holidays. So what do you do with that much free time?

Summer Ball

On the Saturday after exams end, the Uni hosts a summer ball. This is a black tie event but with loads of things to do. There's loads of bands and DJs (We're getting Hodor from Game of Thrones this year) as well as loads of random events and fairground rides. It spans across the whole campus and is apparently lots of fun! I'll be sure to write a blog on it once I've seen it for myself.

Move out of accommodation 

Exams ended on 29th May and most of my friends left between 1st-3rd June. We took a couple of days to put all our things into storage for summer. This is really straight forward to do and most people rent shared storage with their flat mates for the 4 months.

Get some experience

If you haven't already got something to do, try and organise some work experience! Like a placement, internship or something to add to your CV to show that you're trying to better yourself for outside of Uni. For example, my friend is going to China to teach English to kids. She's doing a marketing degree and it's not really that relevant but it's still much better than sitting at home doing nothing for 2 months! I had a free month in June so I've arranged to go and live with a French family and teach their kids English and improve my French at the same time. Hopefully this will help my when I'm applying to placements in French companies during my second year.

Get some paid work

If you can, try and get a job for July and August. University is expensive and you can save up some money during the summer which you can use to help you remain comfortable during the next year of university. I'm working July - August here in Bath to try and save a bit of money. This works well for me because the contract for the department I'm renting next year begins in July so I have to pay for the accommodation anyway.

Travel 

It's true what people say - you need to travel as much as you can while you're young because when you're older you don't have the same amount of free time to see the world. Not to mention, it's nice to get away from the UK for a while to enjoy yourself. After finding flights to San Francisco for £420 return, my friend and I decided to go on holiday in September before Uni starts again. However, after realising that the trip would cost over £1200 in total, we settled for a trip to Ibiza for which the flights are £90 and where his uncle owns a luxury villa where we can stay for free. Bargain!

On top of this I'm going to spend a week in Germany to visit someone and see what all the fuss is about. So my summer is jam packed. In fact, I will only get to go home for 1 week in the space of 8 months. When you're at uni like Bath, your friends will be from all across the world and you'll all be able to visit each other and stay with each other for free and have a personal tour guide of the place you're visiting. This is the cheapest holiday you'll ever have so make use of it.

So start thinking about what you'd like to do when you have 4 months to do whatever you want!

 

International Management and Modern Languages - French

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Matt, School of Management

International Management & Modern Languages - French. I'm going to start off by abbreviating it to "FIMML", for obvious reasons.

This is the course I chose two years ago when I firmed my UCAS choices and so far, I definitely have no regrets. It's a cross faculty course in that whilst I may be in the School of Management, this semester, for example, over half of my classes are actually in PoLIS dept, which stands for "Politics, Languages and International Studies and is part of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences."

The reason I love this course is because it allows me to combine my love of studying a language along with business management which was what I wanted to study. It's hard to find a good degree for language and business - you'll often find that it will be 25% French and 75% business. With Bath it's much closer to 50/50 which means that you get properly immersed into the French language and you pick it up much faster.

Year 1 Modules

  1. French language (written, aural and oral)
  2. French Economy since 1945
  3. French Law
  4. French History 1930-81

As you can see here, it isn't just French business or French language. It's a lot more interesting. The course is designed to bring you up to speed with the French economy, government and it's legal system so that you fully understand the environment that businesses have to work in. Not only are these modules really interesting but you learn loads of specialised vocabulary which really boosts your French ability. Terms like "le dirigisme" which describes government intervention in business don't really have direct English translations.

  1. Microeconomics & Macroeconomics
  2. Statistics and Data Analysis
  3. UK Law
  4. Accounting for Managers

This is the English side of the course and each module seems to be designed to give you an understanding of different areas in order to make decisions - after all it is a management degree, and managers are decision makers.

I feel like everyone at university has a module that they don't enjoy. For me, this was Stats. So much Math. So many annoyingly uneven decimals. However, it's necessary as it helps you to understand how to interpret and process important data, transform it into meaningful information and present it.

Law was great - you learn about the English legal system and it's so interesting case law is full of examples which are usually quite humorous. The most interesting thing was what I learnt on day 1 when I found out that we enter legally binding contracts every single time we buy something at our local shop, whether that's a can of coke or a cell phone. Accounting is good as well, it's all about making things balance so you have a great sense of satisfaction when you finish a practice question and everything is equal and it's great. (Nerd moment)

Lectures & Seminars 

All IMML courses have a reasonably small intake, the largest is usually around 46. This means that unlike other courses where over a hundred other people are taking the same course as you, you actually get to know your course mates. We do share some modules with other courses but a lot of the french classes are usually much small which makes the learning a lot easier.

Some lecturers have started to adopt a system called Panopto. This records the lecture on video but it is also connected to the computer system in the lecture theatre so it also records the slideshow. This means that whenever you're revising and need to see part of a lecture again, it's really easy to go online and find the lecture you need and replay the part you need. You'll have 2 windows on your computer screen, one of the lecturer's computer so you can see everything he showed you in the lecture and another with an actual video of the lecture itself. This was a lifesaver for my Stats revision.

How much free time will I have?

Not going to lie, I have a lot of free time. Unlike the science students, I don't have lab hours so this semester I only have 14 hours per week. Of course I'm meant to do a lot of independent study on top of this but if you time manage properly and make the most of your time during the day by getting up early and starting at 9, you can pretty much have every evening and most of the weekend free.

Placement

This is the second reason that I knew I wanted to study at Bath. They have some amazing placement opportunities in your third year and these days, employers value experience above all else so the year will be invaluable. Some of their partners include big international names like BP and Zurich and they also have great connections with top French business schools.

You have one year of placement which you can choose to spend at a French business school, in a placement or 6 months in each which is what most people go for. This is probably why the employment rates for the course are so high (around 94%).

This has been a really brief overview of the course because there is so much I could write on every little detail. If you have any questions or about the course or university in general, I'm always happy to answer them in the comments section.

So if you're looking for a language & business degree, remember to check the percentage of each half of the course. Remember to check if they have a guaranteed placement and check the employment stats. You will struggle to find a degree as competitive as the Uni of Bath's.

Matt

 

Budgeting as a first year

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📥  Matt, School of Management

I often want to spend my money. All of it. Including the £1500 interest free overdraft which isn't actually my money. This is a poor life choice, don't do it.

Let's put things in perspective. I have £10.00 in my wallet.

To you, the average  teen, this may not seem like a lot and you're right, it's not really that much. However, let me show you £10 in terms of a student.

£10 is the equivalent of:

  • 5 all day tickets for the Bath bus service
  • 4 doubles and a mix at your favourite club
  • 1/2 of a weeks shopping if you shop at Asda
  • 1/3 of a weeks shopping if you shop at Sainsbury's or Waitrose (that's me)
  • 2 months Spotify Premium
  • Almost 2 months of Netflix
  • £682 if my premier league accumulator comes through this week

Before you come to university it's a really good idea to sit down and try and work out how much you expect to spend per week and compare this with your student loan and any other income you may be receiving from a part time job or parents.

I rely completely on my job and parents due to the fact that my student loan is £1500 less than my rent so believe me when I say, I understand budgeting.

Entertainment 

Entertainment is a necessary investment for most students.

For music, I started to use Spotify this year because if you use your NUS card, it's only £4.99 per month for Spotify Premium which allows you to download music to your phone, tablet and computer. It's a lot cheaper than buying music and you don't have to download every song as you can stream songs you only listen to once or occasionally.

For TV and movies, I use Netflix and the catch up sites such as iPlayer. For some shows that are harder to get, I use Now TV which is powered by Sky so I can watch some of the premium shows such as Game of Thrones for £7.99 a month. This is a non-contract service so you pay for one month at a time and there are no ties.

Entertainment total: £19/month

Food & Drink

How much you spend on groceries will depend entirely on what you buy and where you buy it from. I shop at Sainsbury's and I find that generally it costs me around £35/week to buy my groceries. I don't buy fizzy drinks and I don't buy frozen food and I don't buy a lot of snacks except those overpriced activia yoghurts that you tip the granola into but they're amazing so it's justifiable. I buy Sainsbury's branded products for all my basic stuff and then branded things for the foods that I specifically like.

I tend to avoid using the mini supermarket on campus. Whilst it is convenient if I run out of milk of something specific, it is generally considerably more expensive than supermarkets.

Try to buy in bulk when you see an offer on something that doesn't have an imminent use by date, this will allow you to save money in future. I bulk purchased baked beans in October and it saved me £10 and I'm still using them.

Also watch out for promotions for online shopping in September. Most supermarkets offer £25 off your first shop to gain your custom so just use them all for the first month and a half to save a lot of money.

Socialising

Whether it's going to a club or the cinema, socialising is often the most expensive part of your week. In Bath, a cinema ticket will cost you just under £10.

Entry to a club will be £5+ whatever you spend on drinks + transport (£2 for a bus and £10 for a taxi).

Other Costs 

Laundry costs me about £6 per week for 2 washes and 1 tumble dry. I could save money by using my drying rack but I'm too lazy.

Transport will cost you £2 for a day ticket in Bath when you travel with First. Taxis are quite expensive so avoid them when you can.

Textbooks are usually a very expensive part of university with most costing an average of £60. You will find that you will not need all of them. Talk to a second year on your course and they will tell you exactly which ones are important. Other ones you can get from the library or not use at all. I know that there are a few textbooks I bought for semester 1 and haven't opened yet. I also bought a textbook that I need off my flatmate for £20 that would usually cost £50.

My advice to any student is to save money wherever you can and use your NUS student discount no matter how little it is for. All of this will add up and it will mean that next time you're in the city and see something you want but don't need like a Nespresso machine, you can buy it with a little bit less guilt... Well a little less financial guilt!

Nespresso machine

This is Tom's Nespresso machine, because normal coffee is too mainstream

If you have any questions about any costs I haven't mentioned, leave a comment and I'll reply to you!

Until next time.

Matt

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Matt, School of Management

Welcome to Bath Christmas market

Mulled wine, Bailey's hot chocolates, chestnuts roasting on an open fire (or in the microwave if you're a student). Yes, it can only mean one thing - it's almost Christmas and there are definitely many worse places to spend Christmas than Bath.

If you have ever visited Bath or if you ever plan to visit Bath, I can guarantee that you will love it. However, in the run up to Christmas, an already beautiful city becomes the Disney-type festive fairytale that, if taken with a glass of mulled wine, is a winter wonderland that everyone will love all thanks to the Bath Christmas Market.

Bath Christmas Market

Bath Christmas Market

It would be criminal to be a student in Bath and not visit the market at least once. Every day, bus loads of tourists come to Bath from across England and Wales - for University of Bath students it's a 10 minute bus journey. The market is also a fantastic opportunity for you to get some cheap clutter to give to your parents for Christmas. Buy your father a pointless wooden tie and get your mother a ceramic circle that doesn't seem to serve any purpose whatsoever. You can even get a personalised pillow for your dog. Yes, it may be stupid but it's cheap and it looks like you've put effort into your shopping.

The Christmas Market starts around 27th of November and runs for around 3 weeks until around 14th December. 170 wooden chalets line the city centre beside Bath Abbey - around every corner you are confronted with intriguing tastes and smells from candle makers to German hot dog stalls (which I would highly recommend investigating). To be honest, I only really go for the food. The streets are always packed full of shoppers doing their shopping. Bath is a fantastic city for doing your Christmas shopping because it's a small city with everything you could need within a 10-15 minute walk and because it's a student city, most shops offer up to 20% student discount! So don't worry, when it comes to the end of term and you realise that you haven't even begun to look for your friends' Christmas presents; an evening spent in the city will give you more than enough time to buy more than you actually need and more than they actually deserve.

You can see a comprehensive list of the market stalls here.

Whilst the market is a brilliant attraction in itself, there are loads of other Christmassy things to do in Bath at this time of year:

Climb Bath Abbey - £6 

The Abbey enjoys a position of being the flagstone of Bath at the heart of the city centre. The building itself is magnificent but if you think the pictures of the market so far are nice, imagine looking down on that from the tallest building in the city. Not to mention that this £6 includes a complementary glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate.

Bath Abbey overlooking the market

Bath Abbey overlooking the market

Ice-Skating 

You can do this in Victoria Park whenever you like but your hall reps will usually organise a group activity which you can sign up to. What better way is there to make it feel like christmas?

Flat Christmas

When living in halls, one of the best events of term is "Flat Christmas". This is where you celebrate Christmas early and do secret santa and have Christmas dinner with your flat in the middle of December. This year, a new eatery was opened on campus which is called The Limetree. For some reason unknown to us students, the Limetree decided that this year, they would give away free Christmas dinners for a weekend. It was of course a first come, first serve basis and you had to book tickets for sittings in advance online but my whole flat managed to get a really nice Christmas dinner for FREE. Yes, FREE. There's a good chance that they will be doing the same thing next year so keep watch on your emails if you decide to come here.

We then came back to our flat and put a video of a fire on our lounge TV, put up some fairy lights and distributed the secret santa presents. I received a hip flask which seemed like it had been wrapped by a 3 year old or a drunken 20 year old but I guess it's the thought that counts, right?

Our 'Flat' Christmas

Our 'Flat' Christmas

Now I need to change my flight home because I'm getting to go home 3 days early! Whoop whoop.

Matt

 

Getting a job at Uni

  

📥  Matt, School of Management

A lot of students will be searching for part time work at university – it helps you gain experience of the workplace and also gives you a little bit of extra cash each week.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is if you have time for a job and how many hours per week are you willing to commit to part time work. I have 16 hours of contact time per week on my French and International Management course which means that I should be devoting at least 20 hours of personal study time to my subject. Round it up and that’s 40 hours of my week written off for uni work – remember that 40 hours is the average working hours for a full time job. A lot of other courses, especially sciences, have an even higher time requirement so many of these students generally don’t have time for a part time job. If your course is heavy, is it worth an extra £100 a week to sabotage your degree and reduce your overall earning potential when you graduate? No, you’re just going to waste £9000 per year.

If you’re unsure about how much work you’ll need to do, do what I did and get a second year’s number and ask them all about the course.

However, if you think you can spare the time for a part time job, get on it before you even get to Bath. If you already work for a brand, find out if they have a branch in Bath – that’s what I did and now I’m working as a part time supervisor in Garfunkel’s where I get paid to stand around for 20 hours a week and drink coffee. Internal transfers are really convenient because you generally won’t require any additional training so you can just step into a job in Bath without too much hassle.

If you can’t transfer, don’t worry! The best way to secure work is to find out which stores are hiring. Send an email to the branch you’re interested in, attach your CV and briefly explain your situation. Look on their website and apply through their official application process. Bath has every store you could think of so it’s really easy to search for a job whether it’s in a chain restaurant or in a retail store.

However, do not agree to an unreasonable amount of hours, just so you can secure a job. If you agree to work 30 hours a week and then realise that you can only do 10, you will be in breach of contract with your employer and they will be within their rights to dismiss you if they wish. Make it clear to your employer how much you are prepared to do and be ready to negotiate. Employers appreciate employees that are honest and to the point.

Set up a bank account

Many people don’t think about setting up a student account but it really is worth it. Some banks offer incentives such as a free 4 year rail card or perhaps an NUS card – these are things that you will use as a student and they will save you money in the long run. My account also gives me a £1500 interest free overdraft that I will hopefully never have to use but I have the security of knowing that it is there for me if I ever do need it.

 

New city, new life, new frying pan.

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📥  Matt, School of Management

For most undergraduates, the pre-university thought process goes something like this:

“Will I need a frying pan? How many plates do I need to bring? Do I buy my stationery when I get there? Is it stationery or stationary? I don’t know how to spell stationery. Am I even smart enough to go to uni?”

These are all perfectly reasonable questions for someone who is trying to figure out how to prepare for a brand new chapter in their life but setting up your new life isn’t all about moving your possessions from A to B; it’s about starting a lot of things from scratch as well. You need to make brand new friends. If you want a job, you need to find one in a city you may know nothing about. Have you thought about the little details such as bank accounts or travel within the city? Here, I will show you a few things you can do before you get to Bath that can help you get ahead of the game which makes settling in that little bit less of a headache.

Making Friends (Or as adults call it, “Networking”)

On arrivals weekend, 3000 freshers will descend on the University of Bath. If you forget to bring a frying pan that means there are 2999 other people who could potentially lend you a frying pan. Your aim for university (and also for later in life) is to befriend as many people as you can so that when you need a frying pan (or a huge favour), you know someone who can help you out. This is called “networking” but up until now, you’ve known it as “making friends”. The only question is, how do you begin to network when you haven’t even moved into your flat yet? It’s simple.

Photo of the frying pan

The shared frying pan!

During the late springtime, you should start to search for Bath freshers groups on Facebook. These groups are generally quite quiet for the first few months until International Students receive their IB results in July. After this, they begin to become active until A level results day when even more people join and the whole thing becomes a nightmare when about 2700 undergrads all start contributing at 3 second intervals. My advice to you is to turn off Facebook notifications on your phone or your phone will vibrate every minute for the rest of your life.

Regardless, you will start to see a social community forming. You want to be part of this social community – whilst you may not be able to use it to form solid life-long friendships, you can make your first impression and create your own first impressions of others. Remember that it’s more important to be interested than interesting. I moved to Bath from Northern Ireland and I knew nobody but within 30 seconds of arriving on Campus, I saw a girl who I knew was in my flat and another that was on my course thanks to talking to them via Facebook. It wasn’t love at first sight but it was someone who I knew I could go up and start a conversation with, without coming across as a total creep.

One important word of advice. In your first few days at Bath, you will go to an induction assembly with every single other Fresher. The speaker on the stage will probably make a joke along the lines of, “and remember guys, your future husband or wife is most likely sitting somewhere in this room”. Don’t do what I did and turn to the girl beside you who you’ve never met and say, “So, will you marry me?” She was German and didn’t understand the sarcasm. Needless to say, the rest of the time in the hall was somewhat awkward.

Get ready for Freshers

Freshers week is apparently the best week of your life and it is packed with activities. Here are the key things that you need to do:

Buy your wristband

When you start searching for Facebook groups to begin your “networking”, you will find that there are probably 3 or 4 different freshers Groups. Some will be officially run by the University of Bath and some will be independent of the University. The independent groups will encourage you to buy wristbands throughout the summer. It is important to note that these wristbands have no affiliation with the University of Bath and they will not let you into any of the SU organised events. The University of Bath SU wristbands usually go on sale in early September and give to access to 6 nights of amazing acts. This year we had guests such as Zane Lowe and Greg James. It’s up to you which you buy but all I’m saying is that I bought the Official SU one and it was brilliant.

Fill in your medical form

If you visit the University of Bath website, you will be able to find a copy of a medical form which will allow you to register with the medical centre on campus. Get this done asap because no matter who you are or how healthy you think you are, you will catch freshers flu and it will be horrible and you will want to curl up in a ball for a fortnight. It’s now mid October and I’m only just starting to get better.

Review induction timetable

Whilst freshers is a wild week of partying, you will spend a lot of the day times in inductions for your course and for your halls groups. I think these induction classes are just meant to show you why you should never turn up to a lecture hungover but regardless, it’s good to have an idea of what you’ll be doing. Type “uni of bath induction timetable” into Google and navigate through the first couple of links to find the induction timetable for your course. So that’s it. Do these few things and lift a lot of stress and confusion off your shoulders during your first couple of weeks.

Now I need to go back to watching cheesy cartoon animations explaining microeconomics. À bientôt.