Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Topic: Charlotte (Sociology)

Saving money hacks for University

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology)

Dollar, Wonga, Cash, Bucks, Chips, Squids, Dough, Gravy, Loot and Readies. I haven’t gone nutty – these are my favourite slang words for money and ultimately, all I know is that money is short at University. I’m sorry to say it, but you better start tightening your belt!

One of the first things you will learn when arriving at University is that waking up, logging into your bank account and seeing your student finance money is better than waking up on Christmas morning. It’s ace. I remember when I got my first installment feeling a little flustered, and I struggled to stop myself from going straight to the Topshop website, and ordering a gigantic takeaway to my bedroom. I was loaded!

The catch is that this money has got to last you several months. As truly lovely as it may seem at first to essentially be ‘rolling in it’, this feeling won’t last for long and it might hit you square in the face if you spend it all and find yourself living off Weetabix and weak Tesco value tea with UHT milk for 10 weeks of the term. Here are some of my best tips for saving money at University, so you have a little extra to spend on treats, luxuries and not on dried pasta and shampoo from Poundland.

First up: budgeting rocks. I’m sure you promised your parents and your pedantic Grandad that you would indeed ‘keep your eyes on your pennies’ and you’d budget, but honestly, it really is a great weapon for looking after your money. Buying a simple cash book, or even just jotting down your spending each week on the back of your planner can be really helpful and allows you to see exactly where your money is going. I’ve also found that instead of waving my debit card around each week, I get out cash on a Sunday and only allow myself to spend this as then I can keep total tabs on my spending (and keeping some cash on you at all times on campus is convenient especially for buying bus tickets and buying event tickets!). Small purchases such as a bottle of milk here or a pair of tights there can really add up, or they’re easy to forget so scribbling these down can help you stay on top of your spending. This also means that the Bank of Mum and Dad’s gates don’t have to be opened too often, and you’ll get son/daughter points from the family!

Another handy pointer is to write a shopping list each week and when shopping for food, drink and other necessities to only scoop up what is on your list. Writing a meal plan makes this easy and doable. Additionally, try and avoid making lots of small trips to the shops as they add up. Instead of 4 trips totalling £7 to Sainsbury’s during the week, grabbing everything at once can be a lot cheaper and buying in bulk can be immensely economical in many cases.

Applying for scholarships and bursaries sounds tedious, but it’s very easy and can have huge financial yield for you. The University of Bath offers a plethora of scholarships for eligible students, and having a search online can also flag up many bodies essentially giving money to students to aid their studies and University life! A quick Google will help you find out what grants and donations are available for you.

Say yes to NUS! The National Union of Students offers a discount card which can save you money in a multitude of restaurants and shops both online and in-store. For example, on Mondays and Tuesdays you can snatch up 40% off in Pizza Express and the guilt in Topshop, Urban Outfitters, River Island or H&M for example is lessened with the brandishing of 10% off discount with the card. Additionally, being a student at the University of Bath offers some advantages such as free entry into the Roman Baths (A good’un to do with your family who have to pay around £14 each – what a saving!) and subsidised journeys on buses and to Bristol. You can also nab online discounts from Apple, Penguin or Waterstones for example by getting a ‘Unidays’ account using your student email address, saving you lots of money too.

Don’t buy new textbooks, they are megabucks! Because academic textbooks and peer-reviewed journals cost a bomb, it can be very practical to purchase your required readings from Amazon second hand, or from older students who advertise their old books on Facebook and alike.

Good luck!

Charlotte

 

Staying organised at University!

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Now, I don’t want to sound preachy, but staying organised at University is super important for staying on the ball, getting the most out of your degree and keeping on top of your work. I know, accuse me of sounding like your teachers but it’s true! Juggling your time, keeping up with your reading lists and question sheets at the University of Bath can be a daunting task, but providing you stay organised, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

Thus far, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt whilst at University is about balance. Balance is a word that is thrown around a lot; whether about our food and lifestyle choices, school work or emotional balance; it’s really key when you’re a student. It’s important to balance having a happy and thriving social life, smashing your assignments and having some ‘time for you’! Some may even keep up a part-time job too so keeping organised and in control can really give you a leg up!

My first tip for staying organized at University is to get to-do-listing! Once you start, it’s hard to stop and whenever I lose or am without my weekly to-do list I feel a little scatty and lost. One of the best ways to keep tabs on what you need to get done is to jot down a list every Sunday evening for the week ahead.

Hopefully your to-do lists aren't as shoddy as this one (although, planning a day of 'nothing' can be very cathartic).

Hopefully your to-do lists aren't as shoddy as this one (although, planning a day of 'nothing' can be very cathartic).

You might want to split it into sections such as ‘Miscellaneous’, ‘Cleaning/Room’, ‘Assessments Due’, ‘Reading to Do’, ‘Events’ and go from there or you can bung everything together to get the ball rolling. Adding a tick box to each task just adds to the feeling of accomplishment when you blitz through your to-do list and get it all sussed and complete.

I like to add a reward for myself at the bottom of my lists; for example, coffee and a cake at the weekend at my favourite coffee shop or going to the cinema in town, a trip to Bristol or even just buying something that’s tickled my fancy in the shops. This is fab motivation, and I guarantee everything will be scratched off in no time! You’ll be feeling pretty smug and efficient also.

In prime position on my desk in Halls, this is where I jot down everything I need to do for the week. (I usually spill coffee on it by Wednesday!).

In prime position on my desk in Halls, this is where I jot down everything I need to do for the week. (I usually spill coffee on it by Wednesday!).

Another handy way to keep everything in order is to print out your timetable at the beginning of every week. At University, timetables can be subject to change every single week due to seminar locations, differing lengths of lectures and different events going on or even the addition of a ‘reading week’ to swot up before assignments. Pinning your timetable on your wall means that you only need a quick glance before you head out every day, and an overview of what’s going on throughout the week means you can plan around it. Highlighting where you need to be and when helps make this crystal clear.

Routine can be a handy thing at University. As dull as this may sound, getting things done in a certain way or on a certain day every week can help you out hugely. For example, maybe you could set Friday as your day to review the weeks' work and the day where you indulge in a movie as a treat for staying on top of everything. You might want to allocate an afternoon for errands and cleaning such as getting that blasted pile of laundry done, wiping down the shower or meeting your group for a forthcoming group assessment. A routine day to pop to the supermarket every week can be beneficial, and your family will be singing your praises if you make it a regular thing to contact them- this gives you and them something to look forward to and a catch-up with your nearest and dearest is always refreshing!

Having an organised work space when you’re doing work for lectures, seminars or language classes can be really helpful. Getting rid of that mountain of used teabags, the dried up pens scattered everywhere and the thousands of post-it notes can be a good way to clean up your desk and make it a good place to work. Sometimes having a cluttered area around you can make you feel a little rattled, so making sure that your desk and room is organised can help you feel less frazzled and more productive.

Another way to keep all your work organized is to buy an ‘in-tray’ for your desk or a shelf somewhere in your room. In here, you can keep all those pesky sheets that usually go missing and know that everything is in order if you need it: receipts, society membership confirmation, postcards from home, essay titles, revision notes, shopping lists and tickets for club nights can all be easily shoved in here and having them in one place means that you never have to experience that panic of losing an important document again.

Finally, a diary is a great investment when coming to University. When I got to the University I decided to snap up a diary and jotted down all forthcoming important dates such as when group presentations were, when I was booked to travel home, when the university Ski Trip was, when important talks and conferences were being held and when I had shifts at my part-time place of work.

Having a diary means that you don’t ever have that day-before panic when you remember that you’re due to meet your personal tutor, or there’s a great market on in town which you don’t want to miss. You can also remember the birthdays and anniversaries of people at home, and they’ll love that you’re not totally deserting them when you can send them a nice message on special days.

Keep organised! Although boring, it is a super way to keep on your toes and it’ll certainly pay off. I promise!

Charlotte.

 

Surviving the exam period at Bath!

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Examinations. That dreaded, dreaded time of the year when students have to swap clubbing for revising, laughing for sobbing and their mojitos for coffee. Exam-season is never fun for anyone, but what’s different about university exams in contrast to exams in college or at Sixth Form is that at University, you’ve essentially opted for many of the modules you’re being examined in, and you’re studying a subject that is paving the path to your future.

Additionally, the University of Bath offers many subjects that are broadly assessed by coursework and independent study as opposed to formal examinations, which is handy for some and saves some of the typical exam stress.

Revision is tough, exams are draining but once they're over you'll be feeling proud of yourself and your accomplishments.

Revision is tough, exams are draining but once they're over you'll be feeling proud of yourself and your accomplishments.

The first way to survive examination time, and to keep your head above water (which is totally feasible at Bath; there’s tonnes of academic and pastoral support/help available. Peer mentors and peer tutors are delighted to lend a hand at all times!) is to keep organized. Making yourself a revision timetable or to-do lists can be really helpful for arranging what needs to be learnt, tested and re-capped and this allows you to feel in control and not scatty or flustered when it comes to revising for your exams. Organisation of your work area or desk is good shout too; clear surroundings = a clear mind.

Another way to keep on top of your game when it comes to exam time is to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Instead of powering your brain with energy drinks, strawberry laces and endless cookies (yes, we’ve all got textbooks full of crumbs!) try and incorporate some fresh and wholesome foods into your diet as they’re great for brain power and general sprightly well-being. Oily fish is superb for memory, green tea is ace for concentration and a wealth of fruit and vegetables can be great for helping you to feel ‘on the ball’ and healthy (try popping to the shops in the evening when the prices of fresh produce are slashed!).

Drink lots of water, and try and stay active. Take frequent strolls around campus or where you live and still engage in sporty societies as this is great for release from intense studying. Socialising too is superb during mind-frazzling periods.

Another pointer to being top-dog during exams is to keep up a reward system, great for motivating you to get your metaphorical revision hat on and to supercharge your productivity. For example, why not allow yourself a coffee out or cinema trip after 10 hours of revision or a small ASOS splurge when you’ve revised and tested yourself on a whole module? Having something to look forward to, and a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is always helpful for zipping through all those case studies or equations.

When you’re revising for exams, make sure that you change up your revision styles a tad when they become dull or mundane. We all learn in different ways (to assess how your brain gathers and retains information take a simple ‘learning styles quiz’, easily found on Google) so will naturally revise in different manners. Some may opt for mind-maps, others may vouch for flashcards and some stick with Team Post-It-Notes-EVERYWHERE.

Making sure you prepare for your examinations in a variety of ways means that revision is less likely to become uninspiring and helps surge your creativity when putting pen to paper.

Another way to tackle feelings of stress or mental exhaustion when it comes to revising for exams is to take some time out and to focus on relaxation. Although there’s pressure to be constantly scribbling away, recalling facts and reciting key definitions; sometimes you’ll find that you can be more fruitful in your revision with frequent rest and breaks.

Using an app to meditate can be a great idea, as can doing a 20 minute yoga routine from YouTube or even just stopping fully to reflect, relax and recuperate at common points during the day. It’s also super important to ensure that you snatch at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and experts suggest that you should usually stop revision 2 to 3 hours before you snooze so all those key dates and statistics aren’t playing on your mind when it’s time to unwind.

Good Luck, there’s no doubt that using these tips you’ll smash your examinations!

Charlotte.

P.S Did you know that the Examinations Office at the University of Bath organises over 1000 exams for around 9000 students annually, which translates to over 70,000 candidate places in 60 different exam venues?! You have to hand it to them - they're good.

 

How to stay active at university, even if you hate sport

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📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

As a student here at the University of Bath, I would say that the most heard statements are as follows: ‘Which sport do you do?’, ‘Who’s holding the pre-drinks?’ and ‘I should probably clean my room’. The former is a tricky one for me as I’m at one of the sportiest universities in the country, yet I think my 90 year old grandma is probably more agile and better suited to sport than me… no really.

I’ve never really experienced that ‘runners high’ they speak of, I’ve never fancied starting my morning with a ‘few lengths’ of the Olympic swimming pool here at the Sports Training Village and quite frankly, I only signed up to do cheerleading for the outfit. I’m a guilty of being a sportophobic! I’m sorry #TeamBath (yes, Instagram is riddled with this hashtag, everybody loves Team Bath!).

Even though I’m not the sportiest of sorts, I do think it’s really important to stay active and on your toes at university. Spending hours upon hours cooped up in your room studying isn’t great for prolonged periods of time, and if the only exercise you get is dancing at clubs; it’s probably time you got a little more exercise in. Here are some of my tips for staying healthy and active, even if you’re not fully immersed in every sport here at Bath.

Sadly, I can't say going to the gym is my favourite part of the day!

Sadly, I can't say going to the gym is my favourite part of the day!

My first pointer would be to walk-it-out. The campus at the University of Bath is small compared to many other campuses across the country, but to me and my little legs, it seems rather vast. At least every other day I try and take a stroll around the University site. The edge of campus is actually very woodland-y and provides lovely views while pacing around. There’s even a castle backing onto the golf club here, and that’s a special sight – the view from it, it is utterly stunning. There’s also an American Museum on the University site, as well as a cat and dog adoption centre so walking to one of these places is a great way to get in some exercise, with an engaging reward at the end.

Sham Castle, 4 minutes from central campus. A great location for a stroll and photo-snapping session.

Sham Castle, 4 minutes from central campus. A great location for a stroll and photo-snapping session.

If you like scenic places, or just like to have an Instagram feed packed with nature or a Snapchat story oozing with sunsets and nice rivers, there’s many National Trust sites around Bath, which are beautiful and walking the routes with friends is a great way to keep your ticker going. Starting at the university is an admittedly incredible ‘skyline’ walk around the edge of Bath, looking down onto the gorgeous city and only a mile from Bath Spa train station is another National Trust site called ‘Prior Park Landscape Garden’ which is glorious and has a beautiful bridge plonked in the middle called the Palladian Bridge – a real treasure and an equally good day outside.

Another way to stay active at University is by participating in amateur and recreational sports- clubs are readily available for people who have never done sports before and are welcoming to total beginners. Clubs with basic, beginner branches include Netball, Rugby, Lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee and Cheerleading. There is also a terrific group called the 3:Thirty Club who arrange sessions based around getting active for those that aren’t particularly sporty: past sessions have included tag rugby, girls self-defence, yoga, improvers swimming and boxercise. Perfect for those that feel a little daunted by official clubs and want to get fit with like-minded people.

The ultimate way to get the most toned calves ever here at the University of Bath is staring you right in the face: Bathwick Hill! This is the rather steep, and slightly ominous hill up to the University. This does have a real gradient, and there should be prizes for those who make it up by foot without being out of breath, even the elite athletes studying here! Walking this hill takes around 20-30 minutes and is a brilliant way to sweat-it-out and get the blood pumping. The reward at the bottom is Bath’s stunning canal, and all the shops along with the historic sites (Bath isn’t a UNESCO World Heritage site for nothing!) in town so I suppose it does pay off!

Walking along the scenic Avon and Kennett Canal is a lovely way to keep fit.

Walking along the scenic Avon and Kennett Canal is a lovely way to keep fit.

There’s a litany of beginner to 5k running programmes here at the University, and the cycling club also offer frequent rides for people new to road biking.

Jumping for joy at how easy exercising can be in Bath, even if Lacrosse or Rugby aren't your calling.

Jumping for joy at how easy exercising can be in Bath, even if Lacrosse or Rugby aren't your calling.

There you have it – How to not be a couch potato at University, even if the ‘spinning’, ‘Zumba’ and ‘hockey’ buzzwords just don’t appeal to you!

Keep healthy!

Charlotte.

 

Making the most of Department Open Days at the University of Bath

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📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Well done you! If you’re utilising this post, it probably means you have swiped up an offer to study at the University of Bath. Celebrations are in order, although next comes the tricky part: making that daunting decision on which university to firm and which to select as your insurance. You also need to get your head down, as this is where getting the grades becomes very important (don't sweat it, you get out what you put in – work hard, and you’re laughing!).

To help with this tricky decision, here at the University of Bath, every Department holds a ‘Department Open Day’. Yes, we can’t skim past the fact that the free lunch is pretty attractive, as is another chance to stroll around campus and have another nosey at all Halls of Residences; but Department Open Days are really handy in helping you suss whether Bath, and your chosen Department is right for you.

Read on, as I’ll highlight some key ways that you make sure that you get all the wisdom you can wangle from a Department Open Day…

Here at Bath, we usually hold our Department Open Days from October through to April, and most Departments will hold a number of days to make sure they can squeeze in everyone who might be embarking on their course. Department Open Days are packed with prospective undergraduates just like you, wanting to take a gander at the course content, meet people who may be joining them come September and to grill lecturers on what makes Bath so great.

Make sure, whenever you’re waiting for a talk to start, or you’re meandering round campus that you try and chat to fellow potential students. Ask where they’re from, why they’ve chosen the same/similar course to you, what they’re studying at present and why Bath appeals to them. You could even dip into which Halls take their fancy or what societies appeal to them – it’s great to get chatting so you can see what the other people who may be on your course are like and to share your worries/excitements about University.

When attending Department Open Days, make sure you’re organised. You should be provided with a timetable/schedule of the day prior to arriving, so make sure you’re punctual to all talks/lecture tasters or presentations as this means that you can grab all the information available (and make a gleaming first impression!).

For me, when I attended my Department Open Day at the Social and Policy Sciences (SPS) department, I was lucky enough to have a 1:1 conversation with one of the course conveners for Sociology. This was immensely valuable as it allowed to me ask any questions bugging me- I got to intimately meet real academics from the Department and got to hear about all the different areas of cutting-edge research being carried out at the University from the ‘horse’s mouth’. This was really insightful, and it definitely helped shaped my decision to come back to Bath – for good.

I made my decision to firm Bath on my way home from the SPS Department Open Day. I found it very enlightening, making my UCAS response much easier than I had envisaged!

I made my decision to firm Bath on my way home from the SPS Department Open Day. I found it very enlightening, making my UCAS response much easier than I had envisaged!

As embarrassing as it may be when Mum or Dad get out their notepad, or try and engage with other parents at Department Open Days (you don’t have to bring your parents however, it could be the perfect opportunity to spend the day alone, meeting other people without cringing owing to your Mum’s wacky questions!) – it is a good idea to bring your laptop or some paper to jot down key information such as how the course is assessed, semester dates, how many optional/compulsory modules you have to do or when the examination period is.

The long haul to Bath was definitely worth it, so naturally I had to inform Facebook! This seems like an age ago now, considering I'm edging towards the end of my first year!

The long haul to Bath was definitely worth it, so naturally I had to inform Facebook! This seems like an age ago now, considering I'm edging towards the end of my first year!

It’s also favourable to work out how many textbooks you will need to purchase for your course and whether you will be spending time doing practical assessments or having ‘lab time’ as associated with many of the science courses offered at Bath. You can look back in writing when making your mind up on your favourite university, and this means all the information churned out by lecturers doesn’t go straight over your head!

It can also be useful to bring along a copy of the prospectus as from year to year, some parts of the course may change, so being able to edit these on paper will help you out in the long run. Whether it’s a change from coursework to examination, the offering of new optional modules or the changing around of lecturers – take note, so you can be well in the loop when replying to your offers on UCAS Track.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to whoever you see on campus, as you need your decision to be as informed as possible. Everyone on campus is friendly and should be approachable (a few may have sore heads from the night before, so may appear a touch grizzly!). Every Wednesday between 10am and 1pm, we have a Welcome Point at the foyer of The Edge where you can get answers from Student Ambassadors; on Department Open Days, most departments will pull in current students or Student Ambassadors to fill you in on whatever you feel you may have missed, so take advantage!

One of the mistakes I made when attending my Department Open Day was not plotting enough time for the day: I had to make the long trek from Cambridge which meant that in order to be home by a reasonable time, I had to leave campus at around 2.30pm and I regretted not having longer to explore and ask questions. If you feel it’s necessary, book to stay in a nearby B&B or hotel so you’re not rushed for time due to travel arrangements.

Having an extra hour or two means that you could be able to cram in a visit to the City of Bath which you might have missed when attending the Open Days here. I can’t say it enough, but as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and generally dreamy city, visiting the hub of Bath - the tourist and shopping district, is a must.

To make the day a tad easier for you, remember to print your ticket for parking on site or the for the Park & Ride service before the day. The University of Bath operates a free Park & Ride service from Lansdown, with the number 33 service running from 9am on many of the Department Open Days. Bath also offers a Travel Bursary Scheme to help particular applicants with the cost of attending Department Open Days and interviews.

Finally, following your talks, tours, presentations and sample lectures, make sure you check out the Student’s Union, the Library, and the Sports Facilities at the University of Bath. If you need directions, flag down a student in a red t-shirt, all of whom are ready and raring to help make your day as easy as possible.

Good Luck, and remember to make the most of your Departmental Open Days. We hope to see you at the University of Bath come September!

Charlotte.

 

My Bath Bucket List

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Living in the city of Bath is very special, and I always find myself feeling a little too soppy when strolling the historic streets, and declaring to my friends and family at home that I’m lucky enough to be living in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I knew on my first Open Day at the University that it was the place for me, and I consider Bath a ‘mini London’; it’s got every shop you’ll need, a cornucopia of tourist attractions, pretty efficient public transport and some brilliant eateries. It’s packed with visitors snap, snap, snapping away with their cameras and its arts and culture scene is thriving.

I suppose what is different to London is that Bath seems more ‘gentle’. The pace is a little slower, the people are much friendlier and there’s much more of a sense of calm and a shared curiosity to learn and explore. That’s exactly why I love Bath, and feel uber lucky to reside here! The bonus is that the University is truly great, and interacts closely with the city and what’s happening ‘downtown’.

Today, I thought I’d jot down my top 8 things to do in Bath. A ‘Bucket List’ I suppose. To help me out, I’ve linked in the Bath Leap List here, this is a whole pamphlet bursting with things to see and do in Bath and in surrounding cities. There’s stuff for students, and some more nature-y based things for your parents and families who love a woodland stroll.

If you’re a lover of the Great British Bake Off, or a lover of bakes and sweet treats in general, you must treat yourself to a Sally Lunn’s Bun. Sally Lunn’s is the oldest house in Bath and is placed down a tiny and very quaint backstreet in Bath. Sally Lunn’s offers buns which are a mix of scones, brioches and bread rolls all in one and they’re very light, and truly tantalising. You only have to take to Instagram to see all the toppings offered, and the surroundings inside the shop are gorgeous. The waitresses wear traditional uniform to serve Bath’s special buns and it’s a wonderful hour to spend filling your tummy in Bath. They’re unmissable!

Of course, the next go-to is the Roman Baths. Could you visit Bath without popping in?! As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Roman Baths are very central in the city and are a treasure. Immersed in roman history, quirks and traditions, the Roman Baths are an integral part of Bath’s history. The Roman Baths also hold events such as Tunnel Tours, behind the scenes trips at the Baths and even T’ai Chi on the Roman Baths terrace! Why not?

Only a minutes’ walk from the Roman Baths is the Guildhall. Here, an indoor market is held during the week and on Saturdays – it sounds a little odd, but really is a great place to visit. There’s fresh foods, homeware stalls, a sweetie stall that seems to offer every marshmallow flavour under the sun and even a café among the market stalls and shops. The building is very beautiful, and only adds to the experience.

The Guildhall Indoor Market. It's awesome

The Guildhall Indoor Market. It's awesome

There’s no way you can miss the magnificence of the Bath Abbey when exploring Bath; it’s pretty triumphant and immensely gorgeous. As bellowing, and slightly scary as the Abbey may look, both inside and out it’s crafted to perfection. Indoors is tranquil, comforting and ornate and the Abbey only asks for a donation to go in. There’s usually things held inside the Abbey such as bake sales, choir rehearsals which you can sit in on, and the Christmas Carol concert is second to none. Absolutely worth a trip inside!

Part of a dreamy stroll I regularly do along the Kennett and Avon Canal, leading to Pulteney Bridge

Part of a dreamy stroll I regularly do along the Kennett and Avon Canal, leading to Pulteney Bridge

Walking along the canal in the city of Bath is very refreshing as unlike other canal strolls, the Bath canal really is riddled with locks which you frequently see families operating to get their narrowboats down the Avon & Kennet Canal. There’s many a dog-walker around, and many spots to stop for a picnic in the most scenic of settings.

The one and only Pulteney Bridge!

Walking along the canal is lovely, as there's many bridges and a lots of locks

During the autumn months, walking along the canal is particularly nice as the scattered leaves and auburn trees are very beautiful. Walking along the canal will lead to the Pulteney Bridge in the centre of town, and the end of the walk could not be more eye-catching (or tourist flocked!).

Pulteney Bridge

The one and only Pulteney Bridge!

Pulteney Bridge is where some scenes of the Les Miserables movie were shot, so you can’t not come by and have a selfie! The weir under the bridge is fast-moving and makes an interesting photo. The bridge was built in 1774 and is of Palladian Style in the heart of Bath. Many would argue that the bridge resembles the Ponte Vecchio in Florence which adds some exoticism to Bath!

What would a trip to the city of Bath be without visiting the Royal Crescent? The Royal Crescent is a key (and rightly so) attraction in Bath. The Royal Crescent epitomises Georgian architecture, and was built over 230 years ago. The crescent is very distinctive, and cannot be visited without taking a selfie outside of the 30 terraced houses! Just next door the Royal Crescent is the Royal Victoria Park, the starting point where many hot air balloons are launched in the summer – it’s a great place to be.

If you love good food and drink, and also love trying out independent places as opposed to chains; Kingsmead Square, slap-bang in the middle of the city is the perfect place for you. Bursting with independent coffee houses, brunch stops and tea rooms with a farmers market on a Saturday – Kingsmead square is the best place to re-fuel. I can recommend the Society Café for a stunning cappuccino and equally perfect pain au chocolat or if you’re grabbing dinner in this district; hit up The Stable which prides itself on only serving cider and stonebaked pizzas – they’re divine.

That’s all for today, but what I’ve suggested is only scraping the surface! Bath is very busy and bustling and you’ll never struggle to find things to fill up your days here!

Charlotte.

 

How to 'find yourself' at university

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📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

As soppy and gushy as it sounds, university is a fantastic place to find out who you really are. It’s somewhere to learn to love your own virtues and quirks and it’s brilliant for working out what floats your boat, and what tickles your pickle so to say. I’ve heard in the past that people say you can either lose yourself, or find yourself at University – for most people, it’s the latter.

For me, I came to University in a bit of a tizzy: I hadn’t had much time for myself during my A Level exams and I wasn’t really sure who I was. I found myself flitting between friendship groups, feeling low and wondering what I wanted for myself and my future. I came to university wanting to suss out my plans and ambitions for the future, and I wanted to find out who I was.

I did, here’s how…

University is the perfect place to supercharge confidence. Many people arrive at University feeling very nervous, shy and some may respond to feeling trapped in their shell by turning into a bit of a hermit. This is rare, as at Uni everybody really is ‘in the same boat’; it becomes second nature to start introducing yourself to random people and sparking a conversation with anyone and everyone.

You can become much more confident just by working things out on your own, and becoming confident in your ability to sort things out solo. By Christmas lots of Freshers' say that they feel more confident and outgoing, which is a total ‘pro’ of coming to university! Confidence rocks!

Another key part of the university experience is venturing outside of your comfort zones. At Uni you’re forced to push yourself. Whether that means doing your laundry for the first time in your life, submitting an assignment on something you had previously never heard of, or even just attending an induction talk with 100 people you’ve never come across; you’re constantly pushed outside that comfortable bubble. This is great!

*Nods in agreement*.

*Nods in agreement*.

It may be scary having to leave what you know and pushing the boundaries you usually stick to, but this only stretches you as a person and helps you to grow. A very fitting quote here is from Thomas Jefferson who said “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done”. Voila! Smash those comfort zones down!

Another way to find ‘you’ and to establish yourself is to do the things that make you truly happy. Anecdotally, I found that during Freshers’ Week I kept forcing myself to go clubbing and loiter with some very drunk people, even though I would have much rather been at the Student Union’s Pizza and Board Games nights, watching a movie on Campus or just staying in with chocolate fingers and the Great British Bake Off!

As a first-year student, as the semester has gone on I have let go of only doing things because they make me look good even if I don’t enjoy them. This applies for societies too, I felt that I was obliged to immerse myself in as many clubs and societies as I possibly could, but some I had no interest in, and participating in too many took up huge amounts of time. Work out what makes you happy and content and stick with it, don’t bow to what other people want you to do or what other people are doing. Celebrate what you like doing!

It helps that University is such a diverse and buzzing place. There are hundreds of groups and societies and it’s easy to find what you enjoy. Never tried fencing? Have a go at university. Never been allowed to study at 2am before? Pop to the 24 hour library! Want to learn to code? Start up at a coding workshop. Uni is the prime place to figure out what gets you going.

 University is the perfect place to suss out who you want to be and to unearth the real 'you'

University is the perfect place to suss out who you want to be and to unearth the real 'you'

At University, it becomes totally possible to dream big. No one titters when you say that you want to grab the highest position you can, no one creases up when you admit that you want to move to America and start your own business and it’s totally normal on campus to have big aspirations and ambitions.  At Uni you can begin to get to grips with what you want for the forthcoming years, and providing you stick with your studies and get your brain in gear, you come to understand that there’s no reason why your biggest ideals cannot be achieved! Coming to university is the beginning of finding out what you want, and you can start to shape your path there.

Future, we’re coming for you.

Charlotte.

 

Personalising your university 'digs'

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Living in Halls of Residence is great. You’re bunged into a big building with lots of incredible people from all over the UK and many from other parts of the world. You get to communally moan about lectures, have a big old flat Christmas dinner and consume copious amounts of sausages, bacon and beans when your head is a little sore on a Sunday morning. The slight downfall of living in Halls is that in many cases, your room will probably be a little uninspiring.

Most university accommodation bedrooms come with a slight smell of musk, some dodgy curtains (who decided on the print for the curtains? How did they go so wrong?) and a rather unsightly carpet colour. All in all, that’s part and parcel of the living on campus experience, but I’m going to give you some ideas to jazz up your university bedroom and make it a little more ‘you’.

 FullSizeRender (4).jpg Another great tip is to put gift wrap over your pinboards and pin up all your favourite things.


FullSizeRender (4).jpg
Another great tip is to put gift wrap over your pinboards and pin up all your favourite things.

Firstly, during Freshers’ Week, the University of Bath is very helpful in terms of flogging you some handy stuff for your bedroom. In 2015, there was a ‘houseplant sale’ which went down a treat (I salute you if your plant is still alive however, fellow students!) mainly due to the spread of cacti available.  There was also a  ‘poster sale’ which offered posters from bands, movies, inspirational quotes and other lovely designs, there was definitely a poster for everyone here.

These kinds of sales help you to spruce up your bedroom and they’re well priced, so you don’t need to worry about all your pennies going down the drain during your first week. For example, I paid a mere £3 for a huge poster and it certainly added some colour to my bedroom. In town, there are also many shops offering cheap homewear to make your walls and storage spaces a little less bland – I scoped up fairy lights, cushions, postcards and bunting from Primark and Poundland in the city of Bath and my room was looking better instantly.

Yep, my 'crazy cat lady' status is well represented in my room!

Yep, my 'crazy cat lady' status is well represented in my room!

Of course, photos are another brilliant way to personalise your Uni accommodation - make sure you bring photos in excess before you arrive at University, Freshers! Many companies print photos very cheaply, and you can now use apps to directly get all the photos on your phone or on social media platforms printed and delivered within days. Bringing photos that make you giggle, well up a little and reminisce are a great addition to your bedroom, and they’re the perfect way to get chatting to people in your first weeks at Uni.

Another way to add more of ‘you’ into your university room is to bring some small furniture pieces and homewear decoration. For example, a small rug for the floor never goes a miss, some colourful post-it note blocks add a funky ‘something’ to your desk, some bright lever arch folders are fun and help keep you organised. Bringing a radio, some groovy pen-pots or your most unique duvet cover helps add a certain je ne sais quoi to your digs.

My favourite part of my University bedroom

My favourite part of my University bedroom

I personally brought along lots of photo frames, book-ends made in the shape of my initials and a floral laundry bin to make my room more personalised and unique to me. Other people in my flat brought along record-players, teapots and innovative bedroom bins to soup-up their bedrooms.

FullSizeRender (3).jpg Fun stationery is a great addition to your desk, where you'll (hopefully) spend a lot of time!

FullSizeRender (3).jpg
Fun stationery is a great addition to your desk, where you'll (hopefully) spend a lot of time!

Another tip would be to purchase distinctive cutlery, china and other important belongings before coming to University as belongings can easily get lost or confused with the other people you live with. Try buying an oddly coloured saucepan, tupperwares with coloured lids and patterned plates, bowls and cups to make sure there’s no mix-ups in the kitchen.

If you can, snap up some unique china, so you don't all get confused with the same mugs!

If you can, snap up some unique china, so you don't all get confused with the same mugs!

Finally, during the ‘Freshers’ Fair’ in the first week of Uni, you’re bound to scoop up a multiplicity of free things, which can be perfect for adding into your décor to perk-up your room. I managed to wangle some bright green maracas which now live above my wardrobe, a plastic cowboy hat which rests on my printer (regardless of the funny looks I get for it), many free pens littering my desk and too many notepads to count!

It’s definitely worth a visit; there’s a photo booth for creating even more photo memories, sweets everywhere (if you have a ‘treat drawer’ like me these are a welcomed addition) and many representatives will offer free bottle openers, water bottles and shopping bags which you can fling into your digs too.

Charlotte.

 

Getting festive at university

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📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Before I came to University, I did feel a little crestfallen that living away from home would mean that I could no longer celebrate some special times of the year with my nearest and dearest. I sussed that for Halloween, my Birthday and Bonfire Night I would be in Bath, when usually I’d be celebrating and gallivanting around for these occasions at home. I did feel a little sad about this, but now I’m here at university, I’m here to tell you that you’re not missing out! Getting festive is very doable, and very fun at university!

Firstly, you can be at peace with the fact that for at least some of each season, you’re likely to be at home as normal; for instance at Christmas, Easter and for New Year’s Eve, so nothing is lost here! You can celebrate with your family and ‘home friends’ for these occasions but don’t fear for the other ones, it’s a total ball celebrating them in Bath!

Naturally, many people have their birthdays at university although there’s no need to feel woeful about this. I can firstly promise that the shops on campus boast some of the best birthday cakes around, so you’re not really missing out on the cake-tastic bit of your birthday! In halls of residence, it always seems to be someone’s special day and it’s common for many residents to pop by the birthday boy or girls’ flat for some cake and a birthday hug! If you love to hit the club, many clubs offer people VIP 'booths' by the dancefloor or even free drinks on birthdays so that’s another bonus!

Balloons scattered all over Halls are common nature too, and there’s always Facetime or Skype so you can see your family on your birthday. It’s really easy to collect birthday parcels on campus; the mailroom is always bustling with people collecting boxes, packages and parcels of every size so no doubt your Grandma can send you that dodgy jumper she always gets you regardless….

Halloween is very much a spooky affair, even if you’re not knocking on the doors of your street at home. Here at University, it’s ghoulishly normal for everyone to dress up and skulk around campus scaring each other, and Halloween is just another opportunity to hit the fancy dress shops in town and dust off the face-paint kits from Freshers!

For 2015, there was a Halloween Club night and a ‘Zombies on Campus’ event where zombies raced around campus after students…. Scary stuff! Many students carved pumpkins (once they were all bought up, people did have to turn to Watermelons to carve….!) and there was even some ‘trick or treating’ on each others doors. Halloween doesn’t have to be dull, just because you’re at Uni!

Fireworks night is also pretty spectacular at the University of Bath. Bath certainly goes ‘all out’ in terms of holding a firework extravaganza, and this is definitely not be missed. This year, the fireworks were held on the Rugby Pitch in town, and they were dazzling. The ‘Recreation Ground’ was packed with students, Bathonians and kids all going barmy for the firework show!

Some beautiful fireworks above Bath Abbey

Some beautiful fireworks above Bath Abbey

The Christmas Light Switch on in the City is also very special and unlike some small cities, villages or towns, Bath manages to swindle a good light-switcher-on-er! No longer do you have to see the street illuminations being turned on by a Z-list celebrity or X Factor Entrant from 2001: Bath usually has a great celebrity to do it; past big-names have included Mary Berry, BBC's The One Show, John Cleese, The Duchess of Cornwall and Nicolas Cage!

The special city of Bath Christmas lights this Christmas

The special city of Bath Christmas lights this Christmas

And last, but certainly not least…. The run up to Christmas! Many would argue that the build up to Christmas is actually better than the actual Christmas Day, and so you might feel a little blue to hear that much of the winter months of preparation will be spent at University. Well, you don’t need to worry anymore – the run up to Christmas really is wonderful in Bath.

The Christmas Market in Bath really is the whole she-bang. It runs for almost a month and has been voted one of the best in Europe, so there’s no missing it (you can read more about the Bath Christmas Market here)! Rustling up a Christmas meal (on a budget) with your flat, sticking a wreath on your rickety flat front door and wrapping tinsel around all your textbooks gathering dust on your shelf is another ‘pro’ of Christmas here.

A few of the little Christmas touches in my bedroom this year

A few of the little Christmas touches in my bedroom this year

My best advice would be to put your pennies together in your flat to buy a small Christmas tree for your kitchen (I’ve heard down the grapevine that in previous years students have wrapped some fairy lights around a traffic cone, as money really was that tight) and to pop to the Pound shop in town to wangle some tinsel, decorations and cards to distribute throughout your halls. The mood approaching Christmas at university is really one to treasure, and it’s a very special time, even though you’re not at home.

Making 'paper snowflakes' with flatmates. Note the Christmas lights on the kitchen notice board!

Making 'paper snowflakes' with flatmates. Note the Christmas lights on the kitchen notice board!

So there you have it, celebrating all the festivities doesn’t have to be lacking at University – in fact, I would say I’ve had more fun celebrating the special times with all my university pals on Campus than at home.

Charlotte.

 

Getting Sociological at the University of Bath

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

When I decided that Sociology was the subject for me, and I let anyone know about it, I was always met by a dumbfounded face and that classic, classic question; ‘So, what actually is Sociology?’. Time and time again, I even found myself being told that Sociology was a ‘doss subject’, ‘a Mickey Mouse course’ or even ‘just common sense’. As much as this really did grind my gears, such comments never got me down as Sociology is such a brilliant, broad and incredibly enjoyable, let alone super insightful course.

I love studying Sociology!

I love studying Sociology!

I’m sure I sound like a teacher, but in today’s society, Sociology really is a very rugged academic discipline. If you choose to study Sociology, Social Sciences, Sociology and Social Policy or Social Policy here at Bath you don’t need to worry about prospects in the future. You will have so many doors open to you as the course really is all-encompassing and has hundreds of avenues for you to find a real specialism, and a topic you’re passionate about.

If I’m totally honest; I thought the first year of Sociology would be as dull as a dishwater, but I decided that it was an important foundation for my studies so I would push through the mundane topics, grin and bear it. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. I’m in the middle of my first semester, and I’m totally captured by the course. It’s fast paced, very interesting and has many crossovers with other really compelling areas and departments here at Bath such as politics, education, psychology, international relations, anthropology and even English language, as discourse and the way we use words in society is a really key to Sociology.

Here's how my book pile is shaping up. 'Light reading' is something I miss!

Here's how my book pile is shaping up. 'Light reading' is something I miss!

I’ve found myself learning all about Food Banks and assessing whether they’re a good thing or a bad thing for society. I’ve watched numerous documentaries about transgender groupings in India, excluded because of their identity. I’ve even learnt about tattoos, and their meanings to people in society! I’ve gained knowledge in a multiplicity of areas, and enjoyed things I thought I wouldn’t; for example, I wasn’t particularly keen on the module about ‘qualitative methods’, but learning about how to interview and speak to socially excluded groups like the homeless or criminals has been truly fascinating.

What’s great about being part of the Social and Policy Sciences Department here at Bath is the fact that all subjects in the department have a ‘common first year’, as this is basis for the forthcoming years of study in the area. This means that I share all my lectures with up-and-coming social workers, those wanting to jump into social policy and social scientists from many different backgrounds, and with lots of different ambitions. This means that the lecture halls are packed, and learning with such a huge group of people that actually want to learn (unlike all those disruptive students at school and sixth form) is really, really great.

This is very accurate - Go Sociology!

This is very accurate - Go Sociology!

As well as lectures, you also have to attend Seminars. These are small groups, of usually around 20 people who meet weekly following lectures to discuss what can be taken from lectures, and to answer each other’s questions – I don’t know about you, but flailing about with my hand up in lectures to ask a question is a little bit scary for me, especially with hundreds of people present! Seminars are a great place to meet people and going for a coffee afterwards is always lovely.

I love studying Sociology at Bath because the possibilities are endless in terms of my future: I could go into almost any area because Sociology and the social sciences are such broad subjects, reaching into many different disciplines. Another bonus of studying at Bath is the fact that a majority of courses flog you a placement year. This means you get a year out to actually go and work in the field you’re interested in – in the past, students on my course have gone to Microsoft, Google, Dyson, Disney, the BBC, Oxfam, Women’s Refuges and many go abroad to study too. This is a total ‘pro’ of studying at Bath; going into the field is really encouraged and you can get a real taste of what you really want to do.

Even though I’m only in my first year, I’m already itching to start the 2nd and 3rd years of my study because all the optional modules (extra units you can take, on top of the compulsory topics) look SO interesting. For instance, I could study the Sociology of the Body, the Sociology of Death, European Politics and even look at how society is ageing and its effects.

As you can tell, I’m bit of a Sociological nerd. I love my course and I love my University! Comment below if you have any questions about the Social and Policy Sciences department at Bath – we’re a lovely bunch, and I love nattering away about my subject!

If anyone has any questions about Sociology here at Bath, then feel free to ask in the comments below!

Charlotte.