It’s fairly obvious to say that a big perk of being a Gold Scholar is the money we receive as part of the programme. One of the things I’ve invested this money in is developing a new skill while I'm at Bath… Latin and Ballroom dancing!
I go to two classes every week at the university: a beginner’s class and a technique class, both taught by professional instructors. The beginner’s class is where we learn the steps for each dance and practise them with a partner. It was definitely weird dancing that close to someone of the opposite sex to start with, but we’ve all got to know each other now so it’s much more natural! During the technique classes, we learn the finer details that make the dances look pretty and get us more points when competing…
Team Bath at the first competition of the season, in Southampton
Without a doubt, the biggest element of Latin and Ballroom at Bath is competing against other universities all over the country. There’s so much team spirit and support, even as a beginner you feel comfortable and confident dancing against other couples. I did my first competition after only 3 weeks of starting classes, and came away with 4 second places!
Medals and certificates from my first competition!
There's also a big social side. 'Social dancing' is held every week and is a chance to just have a dance and chat, and mix with different people. I've actually learnt a lot through social dancing because you get to dance with more advanced dancers and pick up some tips! Various events and trips are put on the committee too, some of the ones from last semester were ice skating, karaoke and a Christmas meal. There's also the amazing annual Winter Ball, held after Bath's competition in the Assembly Rooms (very very fancy...!).
Beginners group photo at Winter Ball
There’s no way I would have been able to afford to do all this without the money from the Gold Scholarship, so I’m incredibly grateful that I’m able to be part of one of the amazing sports teams and societies that Bath offers.
One of the biggest parts of the Gold Scholarship Programme is doing 50 hours of volunteering each year… this can be pretty daunting, especially for me as a pharmacy student with a very busy timetable! The way I’m getting the majority of my hours completed is by being an Academic Representative for my course.
Academic Reps are the ‘voice’ for students on their course.
We cover any sort of academic issue (the hint is in the name), such as receiving feedback for assignments or encouraging the recording of lectures. It’s a great way to make a change and ensure we have the best experience as students!
All of us come together for the annual academic conference to learn how to make the most of our roles
Every month, we have two meetings to attend and these are our opportunities to raise any issues. One meeting is with the Director of Studies for your course, accompanied with a selection of lecturers and other key staff – this is where you talk about course-specific issues. The other meeting is with other Academic Reps and the SU Education Officer, to discuss any university-wide problems and share tips and successes.
Eager Academic Reps queueing for free hoodies and goody bags
Obviously the main perk for me, as a Gold Scholar, is the volunteering hours! We also get free lunches at meetings (some have even included a Krispy Kreme doughnut…) and a free hoodie and goody bag at Academic Conference – this is a day-long event with lots of workshops about how to create change. But overall, it's just fab to be part of improving my degree for both current students and future students in years to come.
Scared. Anxious. Uncomfortable. They were all words that sprung to mind when I heard about the Gold Scholarship Programme networking event on the 1st November. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The training provided before made the thought of networking seem less overwhelming and more achievable to carry out.
Every mentor was welcoming and helpful to all of us scholars, making sure we felt at ease in the situation so foreign to us first year students. The idea of speaking to people, who I didn’t know, about their journey and my future was scary, but within 10 minutes my worries were washed away. The evening was informative, yet still relaxed and full of friendly people to turn to for advice on everything from university life to how they got into their field of work.
I never imagined that I would be going to canape events in my first year of university. I expected to be eating super noodles on a student budget! The Gold Scholarship Programme brings so many opportunities and the networking event is definitely one of those. I spoke to people from different career backgrounds, making me aware of all the opportunities out there after graduation. It’s a scary thought to be looking into careers just two months into starting university, but it allowed me to challenge my idea of what I want to do, and explore other opportunities available to me, including careers I didn’t know even existed. Coming to university, I didn’t know the exact career path I wanted to follow, but now, I’ve discovered so many opportunities available to me as a sociology student.
Following the event, I learnt that it doesn’t have to be the scary or dreaded event that it sounds. It really is as simple as talking to someone and getting to know them. It can also be as important as making connections for future careers, but don’t let that put you off! Networking is something that I expect to do again in the future, and I’m so thankful to have experienced this already with the support and guidance of the scholarship team.
Applying for a scholarship can sound both scary and exciting, but I couldn’t recommend the Gold Scholarship Programme enough. There are so many opportunities offered by the programme, including volunteering, networking and skill building.
The Gold Scholarship Welcome Event
The financial support is an obvious benefit of the scholarship, limiting many of the worries and struggles associated with being a student. Moving out for university I worried about how I would manage my money for food, rent and social activities. Like many others, I’d never had to budget before. With the money from the scholarship I can feel more confident and at ease knowing I’m not struggling financially.
The volunteering and mentoring opportunities are just as valuable, if not more. Although 50 hours of volunteering sounds intensive and out of reach, there are so many things to get involved with. With so many different volunteering positions to get involved with, it may lead to finding a role to explore as a job in the future. The volunteering positions are also chosen by you, so what you do can be something personal, or something completely new. As part of my volunteering hours I’m hoping to volunteer at a food bank over Christmas, as its something that has always interested me, and now the scholarship has given me the push to do it. Although I’m yet to take advantage of the mentoring, its an opportunity to make connections with alumni who have studied the same course or work in a sector similar to your ambitions.
Peer Group Activities
Alongside this, the Gold Scholarship Programme creates an opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. The prospect of university can be scary, and the fear of not getting along with people was something that worried me. The welcome event definitely helped me with this. From the general socialising at the beginning of the event to the creation of peer groups, the welcome day enabled all 50 of us scholars to interact and get to know each other.
If you’re thinking about applying for this scholarship, then do it. There is so much to be gained.
My first week of university was full of emotions. There were highs and lows, laughter and tears, but most importantly, memories that I will cherish forever. Saying goodbye was hard, realising that university was suddenly happening and I actually had to leave my mum! I was already missing the familiarity of my home town and my sixth form, where everyone knew everyone. I felt like I was on my own on this new journey, in a new place, with new people. In reality, everyone was in the same boat as me, just as scared.
I learnt that it’s okay to be scared. It’s also okay to feel like you’ve made the wrong decision. But the most important thing to remember is that it does get better. Admittedly, I doubted this. I thought I would forever be wishing I was back home with my mum. I promise, that this feeling does pass. Within 5 days I was as happy as could be. Yes, I still missed home, but I was also enjoying every second of my time at the University of Bath. The scenery, friendliness of everyone, and the contagious happiness of fresher’s week definitely helped me to settle in. Freshers nights helped to distract me from feelings of homesickness, and each day, the transition from living at home to living alone became so much easier. The truth is, you’re never actually alone here at Bath. There is always someone to turn to when you want to cry, or just need someone to talk to.
Living on campus was a huge benefit. My accommodation is central to everywhere I need to be, with plenty of places to eat and drink within a minutes’ walk! I immediately made friends with my flatmates, and made sure to explore the new area that I will be calling home for the next three years. Although, I do still get lost going to lectures! Day 2 was spent shopping in the city of Bath, buying all the needed accessories for the various themes of freshers. Within hours, I was all set for each night of Freshers week – a neon pink top for UV night and a bed sheet for toga night. The rest of the week comprised of welcome talks to the department of social sciences, where I was able to meet the people on my course. It was weird to be going back to learning after such a long summer off, but I’m so glad we had the talks. It brought routine to the week which I desperately needed to help me settle in.