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Life as a student in Bath

Topic: Millie

Arts at the University of Bath


📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Millie

Today I am going to talk about the arts at the University of Bath. As I mentioned in my original introductory post, I have done a lot of performing arts, and that is something which is really important to me, and which I took into consideration when deciding which universities to apply to. Bath may not seem like an obvious choice for someone who is very into the arts, as it is primarily a science university, and doesn’t offer any related subjects. However, we are really lucky at Bath, as despite not offering any arts degrees, the university runs an arts organisation called the Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts to cater for those students who, like me, are interested in the arts, as well as the wider community

The ICIA has quite a broad remit – it runs weekly classes that you can sign up for, as well as one off workshops, performances etc, in dance, theatre, music, and visual arts. I’m really excited, as in a few weeks the ICIA’s brand new dedicated arts building will be opening, which includes a theatre, dance studio, music practice rooms, and all sorts of other things, which will be a really fantastic facility for us to use.

The ICIA has a number of staff 'Arts Ambassadors' who review shows that take place at the ICIA- to find out details and read their great reviews visit the Arts Ambassadors webpage.

Students in Laurance Payot’s work “Our Commitment"

Students in Laurance Payot’s work “Our Commitment"

This semester I took a 9 week course of ballet classes, and had individual singing lessons, both through the ICIA. Classes are subsidised for students at the University of Bath, which is brilliant, as it makes things that might be out of the price range of a typical student, such as weekly private instrumental lessons, affordable. I really enjoyed both – so much so that I have already booked for the ballet next semester, and will be booking the singing as soon as booking opens. I am particularly looking forward to doing ballet in the new ICIA dance studio – we were off campus this semester, and although it was fine, it wasn’t like having a brand new, purpose built dance studio to take class in. I’m thinking about booking either jazz or contemporary as well, but I need to work out my schedule for next semester first before I get carried away and commit to more things than I can fit in!

Classes run by the ICIA are open to people of all levels – in ballet for example there are 4 different ability classes, from complete beginner through to advanced, and with the instrumental lessons you can take something you have a lot of experience like I did, but equally you can start something from scratch. I think it’s really great that the university offers that, as some places I looked at only offered subsidised instrumental tuition for people above a certain level or who auditioned successfully etc, so it’s fantastic to have the option of getting involved regardless of your experience, or lack of.

As well as everything offered by the ICIA, there are lots more arts opportunities at the university offered through student societies, run by the SU. For a complete list of arts societies have a look at the SU website, and you can browse other societies and clubs on offer as well whilst you’re there. I have been involved in BodySoc this semester – they don’t run regular classes like the ICIA, but they do weekly workshops in different dance styles, so that’s a good option if you want to dance but don’t want to commit to regular classes. They also enter competitions against other universities, for which teams are auditioned, and put on shows, which anyone can sign up to be in with no need to audition. I successfully auditioned for the Advanced Ballet team, and we competed at Loughborough, along with Jazz, Tap, Hip hop, and Contemporary teams, which was really good fun.

The theatre groups, BUSMS (musicals) and BUST (plays), are equally busy, and again both offer both auditioned and non-auditioned opportunities to get involved. You can audition for a role in a play or a musical, but you can also be in the chorus for the musicals without auditioning, and there are various other shows put on that anyone can be involved in. CHaOS is the choral and orchestral society, and consists of a number of ensembles, again both auditioned and non-auditioned. I had a lot of fun earlier in the semester auditioning to be the singer for the Big Band – they held auditions from which they chose finalists, and we sung with the Big Band in a show called Big Band Idol, from which they chose their singer. I didn’t win, but I got through to the last part of the final, and it was a really fun night – everyone got all dressed up, and singing with the band was great fun. There are loads more arts societies that I haven’t personally had involvement with, so you are sure to be able to find something you’re interested in trying, whether you are a complete novice or very experienced.

As you can see, there are lots and lots of arts based things to get involved with at the University of Bath – I couldn’t cover it all in one blog post, as there is just too much going on, but I hope that it has given you some idea of the kind of activities on offer, both through the ICIA and the SU. I would definitely recommend Bath to people who are interested in the arts, as there really is a lot going on here, from classes and workshops run by experienced professionals, through to student run societies that give you the opportunity to perform, write, direct, choreograph, or anything else you may want to try!


First few weeks as a mature student

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Millie

I’m writing this rather later than intended, as I have been incredibly busy, and also been lucky (!!) enough to come down with Freshers’ Flu not once, but twice. A word of warning: you will get Freshers’ Flu. There is no way of avoiding it – it manages to get absolutely everyone at some point! Apart from that everything is going well though. I’m going to write a bit today about the first few weeks at university, some of which will be related to me being a mature student, and some that won’t.

As I mentioned in my first post, I was lucky enough to come along to a 3 day workshop run for incoming students in the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty who had done an Access to HE course. We all found this really helpful. There was a really wide mix of ages, from 20 through to people who have children in their 20s, and from several courses, although a majority were Social Work students. As mature students a lot of us had concerns about starting Uni, but we had a lovely few days discovering that we all had the same worries and nerves, over lots of biscuits! There were all sorts of sessions run for us; we had some sessions on developing as a student, both personally and academically, some taster lectures and seminars, and some sessions on academic skills. There were also optional evening activities on offer; there was a meal one night, and another night we had the chance to use some of the amazing sports facilities that the Uni has, and did a Pilates class and played some badminton, and then we had food vouchers to spend in one of the food venues on campus, so it was a really nice sociable few days.

All of the staff were lovely, and really friendly and reassuring, and we were looked after very well. Quite a few of us stayed in accommodation on campus for the 3 days, and it was great to have the time to get to know the campus before the chaos of Freshers’ Week.  It also gave us more time to get to know each other and chat. If you have the opportunity to do this workshop, or something similar, I would definitely recommend it. I wasn’t sure about going when I first heard about it, but I am really glad that I did, as I think it helped quite a lot with the settling in process, as well as making me feel less isolated. There were 2 other psychology students, which was great, as it meant I could walk into the departmental induction sessions and see a couple of familiar faces.

I didn’t have a typical Freshers’ Week. I am not a big party girl – I don’t know if that is because I am a mature student, or if it is just my personality, but clubbing is not my thing, and although I do drink, I don’t drink for the sake of getting drunk, which is the student stereotype! I didn’t go to any of the main events during Freshers’ Week (that is what Bath calls the big club night each night), but they also had lots of other events on (called select events), for people who fancied something a bit different, and I went to several of those. There was a murder mystery night, which was really good fun, and a ceilidh, which made me realise how unfit I am, but was brilliant! Then there were pizza and board game nights and film nights every day, and loads of other less typically student things, which I thought was really good. It is also worth remembering that Freshers’ Week is also Induction Week in your department, so as well as whatever you’re getting up to at night, you do have some welcome and induction events during the day!

Photo of items collected during Freshers' Fair

Freshers' freebies!

All of the clubs and societies run taster sessions during the first few weeks, and I think it is a good idea to go along to as many of those as you can, because they are a lot of fun, and a good way of meeting people. As well as things I knew I wanted to do, like dance and theatre, I also went to taster sessions for trampolining (lots of fun and I’d like to do it when I have more free time), Latin and Ballroom dancing, which I’ve never done before, so that was fun, LitSoc, and several other things. It’s also good to go to things like Freshers’ Fair, which is on during the day in Freshers’ Week, and is basically full of companies and organisations giving out information about what they do, but is a great place to score lots of freebies, some of which can be quite valuable, for example I won a £20 voucher for Frankie and Benny’s! I also picked up more pens than I know what to do with, loads of lollipops, which have somehow disappeared, some free bus tickets, T-shirts, and all sorts of other things. I’d advise going earlier than I did – get there as early as you can, because we turned up in the afternoon and some stalls had run out of freebies, but it is definitely worth a visit.

I’m settling down into university life now; I handed in my first assignment last week, and I have another due this week, plus a group presentation to do, and I’m also busy with the societies I’m involved with, and other extra-curricular things I am doing, but I will write more about that another time! Speaking of assignments, I’d better stop writing this now and start writing that! Why is it so much easier to write 1000 words of blog post than 1000 words of a lab report?!


Preparing for Uni as an Access student

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Millie

I’m writing this from my new bedroom at the University of Bath, awaiting the start of Freshers’ Week and Induction Week tomorrow! My route to this point was a bit different to the majority of students, as I am a mature student, and so studied an Access to HE course to meet the entry requirements of the BSc Psychology course here at Bath. This is a 1 year course, equivalent to A levels, and you can take them in lots of different subjects – mine was Health and Social Care, and consisted of units in human biology, psychology, sociology, maths, social history, study skills/IT, and an individual research project.

I knew from very early on that Bath was one of the universities and courses that I liked the look of the best, but also that the entry requirements were fairly high, and so I’d have to work hard to get my place here! Access results are a little different to most courses – all credits can be graded at pass, merit, and distinction, and my offer for Bath was to get 39 credits at distinction, and to get 6 level 3 Maths credits. Unlike A levels, you don’t have a results day when you find out what grades you have – you are given your results as you go through the course. The advantage of this is that you know if you are likely to meet your offer before you have actually finished the course, so there is less uncertainty, and you know which university you are likely to go to relatively early. However, doing the equivalent of A levels in 1 year is a lot of work, and there’s lots of skills, such as referencing, that aren’t expected at A level but are required to pass an Access course.

When I knew I had definitely done well enough on my course to meet my offer for Bath I was a combination of excited and nervous. Obviously everyone has nerves about moving away from friends and family, but this can be even more difficult as a mature student, as you worry about being a lot older than the average student and not fitting in because of that. I was also really worried that everyone else, with their strings of A*s and As at A level would be much cleverer than me, and that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the work. I was excited too though – both the department and the university have such good reputations, and I thought the course content looked really interesting, and there is so much you can get involved in as well as your course.

There is a lot to do in practical terms when preparing for university. Applying as early as possible for your student loan and grant is a good idea, as it ensures you will get paid as close to the beginning of the semester as possible. You are also able to apply for Disabled Students Allowance at this point, which is for any students with a disability or learning difficulties. You don’t get given any money directly, but they will supply equipment that may help you, and pay for support if you need it. I am eligible for DSA, so have received various things to help with my studies whilst I am here at university. There are also various scholarships and bursaries you can apply for through the university, and I will be getting a University of Bath bursary during my time here. I also applied for the Lloyds Scholar programme, which is open to students from lower income families who are studying at Bath, or one of their other partner universities. This involves being given a bursary each year, as well as a mentor, various skills training sessions, and the opportunity to do paid summer internships at Lloyds Banking Group. In return you are expected to do 100 hours a year volunteering work. This was something I was really keen to do anyway, and I thought the Lloyds Scholar programme looked like a great opportunity, so I applied and was lucky enough to get a place. Applying for accommodation as early as possible is also a good idea, as it gives you a higher chance of getting into one of your first choices.

The last month or so before moving here involved going out and buying lots of things I would need (or thought I would need!) for university. I’ve bought several things to make my room feel homely, plus all the usual equipment such as stationery, kitchen equipment, towels, and bedding, plus of course the odd psychology book! Then of course comes packing, the most boring part of preparing for university, but also the point where it starts to feel real, and where the nerves kick in, or did for me!

I was really lucky, as the university ran a 3 day workshop immediately before the start of the first semester for students who had taken an Access to HE course. This was a really great opportunity to meet some other mature students, some of whom are living on campus like me, and some who live locally and so are commuting. I will write about the workshop in more depth in my next post.

I have now moved into Westwood, where I will be living for the next year. All my housemates seem really lovely, and I have made my room as cosy and homely as possible, and am really looking forward to getting stuck in to university life!