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Life as a student in Bath

Topic: Eman

An insight into Maths & Physics at Bath

  

📥  Eman, Faculty of Science

Maths & Physics at Bath is probably one of the smallest courses at the university, with around 35 students. When applying to university, I had trouble choosing a course as I didn’t particularly want to narrow my studies down to one specific field. Having had such a strong interest across many subjects at A-level, I didn’t want to have to settle for just one subject, hence why the Maths and Physics course grabbed my attention.

One of the things I particularly liked when researching the course was how there is more maths than physics involved. We study 3 modules of maths alongside 2 modules of physics. The straight maths course and the physics course each study 5 modules too but what I found was that my course has the best (well, in my opinion anyway) modules from each of those courses, which was a bonus. I don’t think I would change any of the modules I’ve studied so far for others.

In the first semester, the maths modules we studied were Analysis, Methods & Applications and Algebra, with the physics modules being Properties of Matter and Quantum Mechanics. In semester two, the maths modules stay the same but the physics modules change to Electricity & Magnetism and Waves, Vibrations & Optics instead.

Problem sheets galore!

Problem sheets galore!

What I didn’t expect when starting this course was how different the maths would be. With this I don’t mean the level of difficulty but how it was so different to the maths I was used to at school. After a while I thought I would never be able to grasp this style of maths, but it was also easy to forget that everyone else on my course was also experiencing this new style for the first time too. For me it took a while to get the hang of it all but once I did, I realised just like everything we’ve ever studied at school, it just takes practice to get used to.

The fact that the two physics modules I study each semester are topics I find extremely interesting, it made being able to understand university level physics much easier than I expected. Going into this course I expected there to be a massive jump from A-level physics, just as you would with any course really. The exam style questions were much easier to grasp compared to the maths exam questions, but the topics we study go into much more detail than what I had studied before.

Just to add to the already full on course but where would I be without their help?

Just to add to the already full on course but where would I be without their help?

Early on in the first semester is when you start to understand how much work you need to do for your degree. During that time I felt that it was really easy for me to fall behind on work at the end of the week and have a lot more to do over the weekend. Every course requires you to do some amount of work every day, but for me I found I needed to do more than I thought. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though. I’m studying a course I really like and it was effortless to get into the routine of doing a fair amount of work each day.

I do think that as a whole, the Maths and Physics course is what I expected it to be. Like most people, there may have been doubts before starting university about whether I had chosen the right course for me, but I can definitely say I’ve made the right choice.

 

Why I accepted my Bath offer

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📥  Eman, Faculty of Science, First year

Making that final choice in your mind about where you’re going to be studying/living for the next 3/4 years is probably the most significant decision you will have to make during your school years. You’ve been in school for almost your whole life, progressing into each year as if it was routine and most likely attending schools that were convenient in terms of where you live or which were influenced by your parents. Choosing a university differs in that it is seen as the beginning of what you intend to do for the rest of your life.

So far this all sounds very serious but accepting the offer from the university you want to go to is actually a very exciting feeling. It makes you start to think about what university life will be like and also gets you motivated to perform well in your exams in order to get the results you need.

When I was researching universities, Bath was not one that I had thought about as much as others so I was quite surprised when it stood out to me. The main thing that attracted me to Maths and Physics at Bath was the course itself. I had looked a lot into what my course was like at different universities and the specific modules on the Bath course were exactly what I wanted to do. I felt that I couldn’t fault the course and this surprised me as I managed to find something wrong with all the other courses that I had looked at.

This played a huge part on my final decision to accept my offer from Bath. I knew that I would be at university for at least 4 years, and I didn’t want to have to spend even a day not enjoying my course. When you already know which exact course you want to study at university, it’s easy to focus on other aspects when making your choice, thinking that your course is pretty much the same at most universities. However looking in detail at which modules you’ll be studying every year of your degree is a must because for me, I found that my dislike for some made me stop considering certain universities.

As well as the course being a major factor for me, I wanted to make sure I made the right choice in terms of “university life”, looking at aspects such as the campus, facilities, what else the university has to offer aside from an education and just generally whether I’ll feel at home there.

When my research into universities first began in year 12 (back when I was curious so before I properly started to look into everything) I ended up really liking another university. I must have been on every part of their website, finding out everything I could about it, which only made me like it even more. There was a time when I was certain that that was where I wanted to go. However, when I expanded my research and went fully into depth, attended open days and spoke to different people, I realised that I became less fixated on that specific university and grew more and more interested in Bath. Attending the open day for Bath showed me that it was the one over every other university as it was the only university I felt at home at. Being on campus, I remember thinking how I could picture myself there for the next few years and it just felt right; something I didn’t experience at any other university.

Marlborough Court: home sweet home

Marlborough Court: home sweet home

When it came to accepting my offer, there was the whole “this is it” feeling for me. I knew that the university provided one of the best degrees in the country so it was really down to whether Bath was where I wanted to be. So many questions crossed my mind, all along the lines of whether this university was right for me. However, even though I thought about all these questions and hesitated before making my decision, I just knew that it was the right choice, especially because no other university felt right the way that Bath does.

For me, choosing a university was a really big deal, which is why I thought of pretty much everything that could potentially influence my decision. However, one thing I would say is that it’s easy to find things you really like about a certain university and because that might be the main thing you want from your university choice, you could overlook so many other aspects which you might not notice until you get there. I was fixated on one university but didn’t realise that I wouldn’t have liked so many small things about it if I hadn’t noticed those same things at Bath when I visited. Make sure you keep your options open so that when it comes to making that final decision, you won’t hesitate as you’ll know it’s just right.

 

Out with the old, in with the new

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📥  Eman, Faculty of Science, First year

So the first semester of university is over, January exams are already long forgotten and inter-semester break felt like the most needed holiday of my life. It’s now the first week into semester two and I can already tell you that this semester is going to be very different.

Looking back at the first semester, I sort of agree with my friend who referred to it as a “trial semester”. By this I mean it was the point in university where you learn the ropes. It took time to get adjusted to “uni life” if you like, getting used to living on my own, taking control of my learning and practically having to do anything and everything by myself. Of course I haven’t forgotten about the pleasurable side to it, such as going to all the student events set up by the SU and A List event reps and just generally making the most of the social aspects of university.

The weekly students' nights at Bath's clubs and on campus organised by the A-list team

The weekly students' nights at Bath's clubs and on campus organised by the A-list team

Of course as a Fresher I wanted to go to every social event and night out, wanting to meet as many people as I could and maybe just enjoying the fact that my parents are no longer here to ask me where I’m going and when I’ll be back. Looking back, I found that it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and say yes to every night, forgetting that I’m actually doing an intense course that requires me to do a lot of independent work. But, now that I’m going into a new semester, I realise that learning to prioritise what’s important and knowing how to balance things is probably going to be a lot easier now that I’ve experienced what everyone refers to as the “uni lifestyle” (and yes, it’s actually a thing).

Show You Colours night during Fresher's Week

Show You Colours night during Fresher's Week

On the academic side of the first semester however, I do admit there are quite a few things I would do differently, the main one being the amount of work I put in the first few months. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re just at the very beginning of a 3/4 year course and that these first few months are needed to enjoy yourself first. While that’s true, I can see that keeping on top of your work from the very start and not leaving it for the “catch up” weekend that never actually comes is so much better. It saves all the stress later on when it comes to revising for your January exams, and realising that you’ve maybe never even seen some of the content before (something that I may be guilty of…)

However, because I can say that there are things I would to do differently from last semester, it makes transitioning into semester 2 much easier. I say “transitioning” as if it’s like starting university all over again, but I guess you could look at it in such a way. I mean, you’ve just finished January exams, which for me was probably the most stressful exam period I’ve experienced (thanks to having five exams (and trust me, that’s a lot at Uni), four of which were in a row in the first exam week), and having just come back from Inter-semester break, which like I mentioned before, was the most needed week off I’ve had in a while.

A copy of my January exam timetable (just look at the dates of those exams!)

A copy of my January exam timetable (just look at the dates of those exams!)

Going into semester two, you’re starting new modules in your course and are able to do things differently to how you did them in the first semester. Plus, like me, I’m pretty sure you’ll have New Year’s resolutions about how you want the rest of your first year to go, and the start of semester two is the best way to begin.

While I want to treat semester two the same as semester one by making the absolute most of my time here at university, I now also want to to make the rest of the year as easy and stress free as is possible, which I now know will require some good planning and time management in order to cope well with the demands of my course.

 

New home, new friends?

  

📥  Eman, Faculty of Science

It’s safe to say one thing that pretty much everyone thinks about before starting university is the idea of making friends. Whether it’s a major issue people are worried about or if it has simply crossed their minds for a brief moment, most people, if not all, have thought about it at some point. For me, it was more about how I was leaving the most amazing friends behind, and whether I would be able to find people I can click with as easily as I had with my current friends.

At some point, people will definitely tell you not to worry about not making friends as everyone is in the same boat as you. This is true and something you really need to keep in mind. Just like you, the rest of the students moving in are thinking the exact same thing: will it be hard to make friends?

As I was unpacking my things after my family had left, I was quite eager to meet my new flatmates. Of course, everyone was moving in at different times so there were points where the flat was empty. However, anytime I heard what sounded like someone moving into the flat, I went straight outside to say hello. Your flatmates will be the first people you meet and make friends with. It was quite easy for us all to become friends quickly as we were going to be living with each other for the next year. A lot of your socialising is done with your flatmates at the start as you’re sharing a flat together and will constantly see each other daily.

Everyone wants to try and make as many friends as possible but venturing out from your flat may seem difficult. It felt like that for me at first, but I also wanted to get to know more people in my accommodation block and see who was living in the flats next door to us. When I had some spare time from unpacking, I decided to go over to the flat next door and introduce myself. It was slightly daunting as they were all conversed in their kitchen but they were just as eager to meet people too. Because of this, we all decided to go round our accommodation building and introduce ourselves to as many flats as possible.

Day 1 of Freshers' Week and already in other people's flats

Day 1 of Freshers' Week and already in other people's flats

In a way, we all sort of knew each other, as before coming to Bath, we had formed a massive group chat of everyone in our building and got to talk and get to know each other a bit beforehand. So, going round to everyone’s flats was quite interesting as we all felt kind of familiar.

Our pre-university accommodation chat; meeting current friends rather than new then?

Our pre-university accommodation chat; meeting current friends rather than new then!

After saying hello to everyone, you realise there was no need to have any doubts about meeting new people as everyone is just as eager as you are. Being in the same position as everyone else already gives you something in common and it’s a very easy place to start from.

One of the main ways everyone got to meet new people was Freshers' Week. As well as being excited for the main events, the pre-parties were just as fun. Different flats across the building opened up their kitchens where people were free to come in and party with everyone. Over the course of this week, I met some amazing people having spent time in lots of different flats to get to know as many people as possible.

Although you end up sticking with the people you pre-partied with in your accommodation building, you actually end up meeting a lot of people in different accommodations during the main events in Freshers' Week. Also, if you happen to have a friend you’ve known before coming to university, it’s definitely worth going over to their flats at some point and meeting their flatmates. Now whenever I go over to see my friend, I can easily stroll in as if I’m a part of their flat too.

So of course it’s normal to be worried about making friends. But there are so many opportunities to meet new people, and this is just in the first week of university. There’s so many more people to meet in your course and in any societies/sports teams you decide to join. If you feel like at some point you haven’t found people you click with, again, don’t panic! Everyday I’m meeting more and more people, whether it be from nights out or through other friends. Be patient and it will definitely happen.

 

Preparing for university: from exam results to arrival

  

📥  Eman, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Just like every other A-level student waiting to hear whether their two years of hard work paid off and they made it to university, the butterflies were non-stop and I had absolutely no chance of sleeping the night before. Waiting for UCAS Track to go live the next morning was even more daunting but also exciting at the same time.

However, when it did go live, I probably felt the happiest I’ve ever been. Seeing that I received a place at the university I have been looking forward to going to for the past year made everything suddenly seem so real. You realise that it is now a reality and that soon you’ll be moving out and going to study what you love for the next 3/4 years or so, at an institution that you know you’ll feel at home in.

After the celebration (and I’m pretty sure everyone celebrated hard), I realised that there was so much to do to prepare. I recognised that it isn’t a temporary thing, like attending a summer school. This is something that is going to lead me into the rest of my life.

The university was extremely supportive with making sure we had everything we needed in order to properly register and confirm our place. I received numerous emails outlining everything I needed to do, and although it may seem as if too much is going on, it honestly is not that bad and I found that every time I completed something for the preparation it got me more excited and eager to start.

I remember sorting my photo out for my library card and thinking I just want to be there already! (By the way, listen to when they say choose the right photo because you’ll be using your library card a lot and that photo will stay with you for your whole time at Bath).

The care where one wrong picture and you're stuck with it for your entire time here

The card where one wrong picture and you're stuck with it for years!

Although there were a lot of preparations in terms of registration, there was also the task of thinking about what I was going to take with me. When I first started packing, I kept thinking that, knowing me, I was most likely going to forget something to bring which I was definitely going to need. (And I did! I completely forgot to bring my hockey equipment with me, which was helpful). However, I found the whole idea of packing quite thrilling. I was moving on to the next chapter of my life and although it is quite daunting to think about, it was actually one of the best feelings I had.

My hockey equipment where it's always belonged

My hockey equipment where it's always belonged

When I knew I had to start packing, the first thing I thought of was my clothes and anything in my bedroom that I can take to make my new room feel as homely as possible. It wasn’t until my mum started packing kitchen and bathroom essentials that I realised that moving to university is a lot more than getting a new room and studying my course. I realised I was going to have to learn to be more independent than I already was.

That thought did worry me because although I felt I was already quite independent, there were still a lot of things at home that I never had to worry about. This included simple things like using the washing machine, cleaning the bathroom etc. Seeing all of those things packed however, strangely had me excited as I started thinking how I’m going to be more of my own person, with my own responsibilities and no one to rely on.

All the time leading up to moving into university and preparing for it was actually quite nerve racking because for most people, including me, you’re living away from your family for the first time and it’s a new experience for both yourself and your family. However, it is also one of the best experiences too. Spending all that time preparing and packing made the whole thing seem more real the closer it got to move in day. I can honestly say that it was one of the most exciting times I’ve been through and I’m sure it will be the same for you too if you also end up going to university.