Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Topic: Mirella

Open Days

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

I spent my past few Wednesday afternoons helping out at the Department Open Day events for the School of Management. These Open Days are for applicants who have already received a conditional offer from the University of Bath. As I know some of you might not be able to attend these Open Days, I want to tell you a little bit about what happens because I think if I had attended one of these Open Days last year, when I received my offer, I wouldn’t have been as scared as I was at the beginning of the university year.  So if you have an offer from the University of Bath, try and come to your Department Open Day – you won’t regret it and it will definitely help you to make up your mind if you actually want to study here.

First you will attend a talk by a professor and alumnae. They will talk about what you do in your course and what to expect and so on. Then current students show you around campus and answer your questions. So that’s where I am stepping in. I will show you, and maybe your parents or siblings, around campus and tell you how great our university is (I am not saying our university is great because I get paid for it – I actually mean it!) I know I can’t really do a virtual tour but I can just tell you some main parts, which might be interesting about the university, which you might not have known before.

  • We have two banks on Campus (Santander and Barclays)
  • We have our own supermarket  - So don’t worry, you don’t have to go to town to buy food, but most of the students order their food online anyways as it can be a pain to carry your shopping from the bus stop to your accommodation
  • We have a medical centre – If you are ill, you don’t have to leave campus to see a doctor or a nurse and we even have our own dental practice
  • We have a superb gym where world class athletes train – that’s why you are not allowed to take any pictures inside it
  •  We have a library which is open 24/7 – so you can get a book at 2 am if you want!
  • We have a security office on campus inside the library, which is there for you 24/7.
Watch out for the blue tops on a Wednesday!

Watch out for the blue tops on a Wednesday!

While I guide the prospective students and sometimes their parents, siblings or carers around campus, I try to engage them in conversations and encourage them to ask questions. So here are some questions I have recently been asked:

Do you have to be sporty to study here?
No, definitely not. We might have a superb gym and have a lot of sport clubs and societies, but if you are not into sports, don’t worry. We are not all sports mad here. Though, I have to say there might be a little bit of peer pressure to do some sports as so many people are part of sports societies, but some people just join sport societies for the fun socials and I have to say it is a great way to make friends.

What is the nightlife like in Bath?
We are a student city. So obliviously we have some clubs, bars and pubs, which host great students nights, nearly every day of the week. However, Bath is not a big city, as you might know, so you tend to go to the same places, but you can easily take the train to Bristol for a night out or some people even go to London for the weekend and stay with their friends.

Do you make friends easily here?
Yes, you do. In my opinion, everybody at the University of Bath is really friendly and open-minded and in the first few weeks everybody is new at the university and in most cases, they don’t have any friends here, so everybody is looking for friends.

Do you have a lot of free time?
This obviously varies from course to course, but I would say, everybody has leisure time and it just depends how you manage your time. Some people even fit part-time work in, while studying here.

Do you ever get bored on campus?
Of course! You can’t have action all the time, but if you get bored here, you can just visit some of your friends here on campus and hang out with them. 

Do you ever feel unsafe in Bath?
No, never. Bath is a really safe city and on campus we have got our own security people looking after us. The taxi drivers in Bath are even obliged to take you back to Campus even though you might not have any money on you, as Campus Security will pay for it and you just repay them the next day.

Do you ever go home on the weekends?
I don't but that's just because I am from Austria and it's not that easy to go to Vienna for just two or three days, but my flatmates do. They jump on a train with their dirty laundry in the luggage and spend a nice quite weekend at home away from all the university stress. Sometimes, I am really jealous of them, but then I Skype with my family and friends at home and I feel a little bit better. 

I can’t think of any more questions, but if you have the chance, come and see for yourself.  They are a great way to get to know the campus and to talk to current students and if you have any more questions now, just leave a comment below this post.

 

Management - A Review

  

📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

Happy New Year! My first term studying Management with Marketing at the University of Bath is over and I think that I am therefore qualified to write a little review about my subject. It's probably the only review you will find online as I am one of the selected few who is in the first year of this new course. So if you are thinking about applying for one of the business degrees at the University of Bath or if you are just wondering how I am doing studying a brand new course here you should definitely continue to read!

8West - home of the School of Management

8 West - home of the School of Management

Management with Marketing, Business Administration,  International Management with French, Accounting and Finance etc.
The University of Bath might be known for their many science and engineering degrees and their world class sporting facilities, but it's also home to a School of Management. The Times ranked Bath in the top 5 for  Accounting and Finance and the Guardian ranked Bath 3rd for degrees in Business, Management and Marketing. If you want to find out more have a look here.

You can choose from a range of business courses like Management with Marketing, Business Administration, Management with French/Spanish/German or Accounting and Finance. Just have a look here if you want to read a little bit about the different degrees.  I considered applying for Management with Marketing, Management with French/Spanish or International Management, but decided to go for the one with Marketing as I thought it's the most "creative", and to me Management with French or Spanish sounded too much of work as you have half your classes in the language.  The university offers language courses anyway, and so I am taking an Italian class which counts for 3 credits and is once a week for two hours.

Management Suite
As I have stated Management with Marketing is a brand new course.  It's part of the so-called "Management Suite" which consists of the courses Management, International Management and Management with Marketing. Together we are about 120 students who study in their first year together and go to exactly the same lectures. So if you want to change course due to whatever reasons there are chances  you can actually do it in the first year (after you had a talk with the director of studies).  I don't want to promise that everybody can change easily but I know that the University will try to help you if you are unhappy.

On this note I just want to say that I think that our director of studies, Jens Röhrich, seems to be a nice guy who is there for you if you need some help academic wise. I haven't  spoken to him yet, but I know he is German (so German speaking just like me) and he recently gave a talk about the exams and what we can expect from them.

Lectures and Seminars
In the first year students from the Management Suite aren't allowed to choose subjects, so you just have to get along with the fact that you get introductions to the most vital areas of a business degree. So far I had the following subjects: Economics, Accounting for Managers, Business Context, Organizational Behavior, International Business Environment and Business Analytics. Most lectures are accompanied by seminars where you discuss and revise the topics of the lectures in small groups, which are quite helpful if you have any questions regarding the topics. As you know very well from school there will be some lectures you enjoy more than others, but most lectures change in the second semester.

The other future managers
We all know going to university is not only about the lectures you go to and the intellectual things you learn, but also about finding friends and having a good time while studying. As we are only  120 students you recognise most of the people by their face and probably know a quarter of them by name, and some of them you will even call you friends and that's only after 3 months at university.

The School of Management really wants you to get to know your colleagues, so in the first two weeks they organise some socials where you are able to talk to the other students in an informal gathering over beer and fizzy wine! After all, networking is really important if you want to be a manager in the future.

I am really glad that the School of Management organised them as I know it gave me the chance to become friends with people on my course and it's way more fun to be friends with the people you study with. At least I can say that I am always looking forward to lectures and seminars because I know there will be at least one person I am happy to sit next to and enjoy myself. And if you have a really boring lecture (yes, they exist) you can still be bored together with your friends!  On this note I just want to share a phenomenon I have experienced in my course. In all the lectures I have, most of the international students sit in the first rows while most of the British students sit in the back rows. You might get the hint that our course is quite international. I would guess about half of the students don't own a British passport and I love it.

Exams
I haven't had my exams yet, so please wish me luck  - hopefully I won't need it as I will have studied enough - but I know that our professors try to prepare us as well as they can and all of them have offered us to answer questions via Moodle - the university's study platform - or to utilise their office hours.

My rating
All in all, I would give the Management Suite 4.5 out of 5 and I am really happy that I chose it. It would have gotten 5 stars if they had us assigned a peer mentor -an older student who is studying the same subject and is able to answer some questions - but unfortunately as it's a new course there are no older students.

Why England? Doesn't it rain all the time?

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

For us lucky university students it is already the Christmas break and I can write this in silence (!) in a big room. I don’t hear anybody shouting outside and when I open the fridge I see more than just a pack of cheese. So why did I want to trade this comfy life at my parents home for living in university halls in a country where they don’t speak the same first language as I do?

I have asked myself this question at one point or another in the last 12 weeks at the University of Bath. Mostly this question came to my mind when I tried to sleep but then I heard somebody just coming back from a night-out or when I wanted to have a nice dinner but then I remembered I only have cheese and pasta in my cupboard. But then I always think back. I think about why I wanted to study in England in the first place.

Quality of universities
England is known worldwide that they have some of the best universities of the world and that universities have world-class facilities like at the University of Bath where you can go to the Library 24 hours a day (not that I have ever been to the library after midnight but I could if I want to) or where we have a 50m Olympic size pool.

Language
My mother language is German and apart from Austria, Germany and Switzerland nobody speaks German, so for me going to England is the chance to improve my English and to be able to work anywhere in the world. English is the language nearly everybody learns and understands and I always wanted to be fluent in more than one language.

Employability
Everybody talks about how it is getting more and more difficult for university students to find a job after graduation.  At the University of Bath the employability rate of graduates after 6 months is 86%.  Furthermore, if I go back to Austria after graduation, my CV will stand out because I have studied in another country.

Sense of independence
Before I came to university I was certain that I would gain more independence from my parents and my family, but now I can say this is only true to a certain amount. I live more or less on my own and I don’t have to tell my parents what I do or where I go and I am responsible for my own washing, cleaning and cooking. But I do depend on their money. I know my parents are happy to pay for my living and I am grateful for that because as an EU or International student you don’t get a loan for accommodation and living, but to be honest I don’t like to live on my parents expenses. So maybe for the next semester I will look for a job to earn some money!

Internationality
England is a melting pot where many different nationalities and cultures live together and learn from each other and I always wanted to get more international friends, and now I have got them. On my course (Management with Marketing) we have students who are from Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Germany, Russia, Dubai, France, Lebanon, Poland and Belgium, and I think it is wonderful to have all these different cultures in a lecture hall.

History
I have never been to the University of Bath before I applied and even though I knew the University of Bath is a relatively new university (next year we are celebrating 50 years  of the University of Bath), I always hoped the University would have some old historic buildings, but I was fooled. The only old thing about the University of Bath is the logo. Everything else is new. I am still not sure if I like that but if I want to see some old buildings I just pop down to Bath because sometimes you even feel like you are in a Jane Austen book as nearly all the buildings are old and are from the 18th or 19th century. So even though the University of Bath unfortunately does not look like Hogwarts at all, you can still walk through the city and imagine that you are part of Northanger Abbey (a book from Jane Austen, which is based in Bath).

Roman Baths... and Bath Uni's logo

Roman Baths... and Bath Uni's logo

Now that I am home again I can tell you what I really miss about Bath.

The Bus Service
Most University of Bath students moan about the bus service as there are times when you have to queue a ridiculous long time to get a bus to the city centre but actually I think they are awesome. Bath is such a small city compared to my home town Vienna, but at least you can catch the bus till 3am to go back to campus during the week(!). In Vienna you have to take a taxi after midnight and only on Friday and Saturday you can take the underground 24hours.  Also something that is quite unique about Bath is that you always know somebody on the bus- I think there was only one time when I wasn’t able to greet anybody on the bus and that was on a Sunday evening when I was the only passenger!

The Campus
As I am an only child and live in the outskirts of Vienna I never had my friends around me all the time. In Vienna it takes me about 30 min to meet my friends and people never want to visit me because I live too far away. Bath it is different. You are with your friends all the time and sometimes it feels like a really long summer camp, and you are hardly ever alone if you don’t want to be alone and that is wonderful.

P.S. I don't think it rains all the time, because actually  I think the weather is quite nice most of the time but my friends always moan about the weather and my flatmate said in 11 weeks it has rained 9 times on a Monday.

 

Decision making

  

📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

To be 17 or 18 is just horrible. You are just about to finish school and people are already nagging you with questions like: "What are you going to do after school?", "What do you want to study?", "What do you want to do with your future life" and all you want to at the moment is to enjoy your time with your friends.

Let’s just assume you already know that you want to go to university because you have heard student life is great fun  (to be honest it is great fun) , but now you have to think about 5 universities you want to apply to if you want to (or if you are an international student like me you might even broaden your horizon and look at other good university countries like Switzerland or Germany).  How do you know which university to go to?

I want to help you a little bit by sharing my top 5 list of things you should look at before applying to universities.

  1. Course. Think about what sort of area you want to study in. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to study but I knew that it should be something with Economics but not quite Economics.
  2. Town or city. Do you want to study in a small town or in a big city? If you are not happy in a big city like London then don’t apply even though they have really good universities- you have to spend at least 3 years there and these years should be awesome ones.
  3. Location. Where is the university and how are you going to get there? I know this might sound silly but I considered location as I quite fancied the idea of going home to Vienna for a weekend.
  4. Rankings. University rankings might not be the most important thing to look at, but I think it is quite pleasing to know that you apply to a university or course which is one of the best in the country.
  5. Extra curriculum. What does the university offer? Do they have a gym? Do they have many societies? Do you actually want to join a society? (Yes, you definitely want to!)

So why did I apply to Bath in the end?

  1. Course. “Management with Marketing with a placement year” sounded brilliant. It was just what I was looking for.
  2. City. Bath is probably one of the most beautiful cities to study in and I quite fancied the idea of strolling through the city centre with a coffee in one hand and a book about marketing in my other.
  3. Campus. Isn’t it great to think that you would live on a campus, which is like a small town just for students and the staff. (It is quite brilliant to live on campus. My friends in Vienna have to leave about 30 mins before a lecture starts, whereas I just leave 3 mins before!)
  4. Rankings. I read online that 93% of students in Bath are satisfied with the university
  5. Placements. The University of Bath is great when it comes to placements and in my opinion a placement year is a great way to get an insight into an industry or company where you would like to work after graduation.

And if you are in doubt about your decision just visit an Open Day. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to one but I had already been to Bath once and I knew that I could definitely live here for the next 3 years.  However, I am going to be one of these annoying, cheering student helpers this year that helps out on Open Days and tells you how great the University of Bath is  (apart from a few ugly 60s or 70s buildings).

So was it the right choice to choose the University of Bath?

I have only been here for just over 2 months, so my opinion is mostly based on the great Fresher's week and all the other fun stuff, but just look at the lake:

The stunning lake

The stunning lake

Who wouldn't want to study here?

And if I had known before how awesome my flatmates are (especially Lydia), I would have applied even sooner.

Moving-in and Fresher's week

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

It has been two weeks since I have written my first blog post and now I am able to answer the question, which bothered me before I started university.

Are my flatmates nice?

Yes, they are. Everyone in my flat is really lovely, friendly and social and I am really happy about that. In my opinion you don’t have to be friends with everybody on your floor (and it is probably impossible because there are 23 of them living on my floor), but I think it is important that you are friendly to everyone and just ask them how their day was, when you meet them in the kitchen and that’s exactly what my floor mates do.

Is my room big enough?

Photo of MIrella's room

My tiny tidy room

My first thought about my room was: “Even a prison cell must be bigger than my room”, but I have to say that even though I don’t have a lot of space, it is all I need. I have a comfy bed, a wardrobe, a table and a sink and the good thing about being an International student is that you don’t have a lot of stuff with you, so compared to my British flatmates my room has a minimalistic style and is always tidy.

Is it hard to share a bathroom or a kitchen with five or more people?

I am an only child and I never had to share a bathroom or a kitchen with a lot of people before. So I have to admit, it is hard. Especially, the first few mornings were quite awkward, because all these people you have just met and might not even remember their name, were walking to the bathroom in just a bathrobe or a towel. The good thing about sharing a kitchen though is that you have always company around, because everybody needs to eat and if you don’t want company, you just go to your room and close the door.

Are the any other Austrian or German students at the university?

Yes there are. Unfortunately, most of them are German as Germany is a lot bigger than Austria, but we still speak a similar (some people would say the same) language and there is even a German society, which I will join.

And probably the most important one:

Is Fresher’s week as much fun as I think it will be?

This is probably one of the essentials questions for International students (and I am sure all the British 6th formers are also eager to know how it is) because I think Britain is the only European country, which has got a proper Fresher’s week.

Let me start at the beginning of Fresher’s week with my arrival day. My arrival at university reminded me of the” dropping of at boarding school scene” from the film “Wild Child”. (If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the trailer here) . After unloading my luggage from the car, I just looked up at my accommodation and I thought about getting all my things back in the car, because for me, it looked just like a prison, but after all, my excitement about starting university kicked in and a little voice in my head told me that I should just go in and unpack. The problem here was, that I was late. All my flatmates had already unpacked because they arrived in the morning and I arrived in the afternoon and then I went out with my host family to get dinner. So actually I did not meet any of my flatmates till I came back in the evening. I have to admit that I was really scared about meeting them, but after all it was fine as it is the same situation for everybody. Everybody just moved out from home and moved to a new city and might not know anybody on campus. The only thing, which was and still is difficult for me, is to understand all the different English accents.

So the first socialising with my flatmates happened in one of the kitchens (all in all, my flat has two big kitchens and one small kitchen in the middle) and after the socialising in the kitchen, we went to a party at the Plug, which is the Student Unions own club on campus and it is fab. Since that night my flat calls me Kevin because apparently there is a Belgian football player called Kevin Mirallas and as most English natives can’t roll their R, they can’t pronounce my name, therefore it is much easier for them to call me Kevin or Kev. So, if you are an International student, be prepared that English students won’t be able to pronounce your name and give you a nickname.

I should probably mention that every flat has two older students looking after them during Fresher’s week and helping them to settle in at University. At this point, I want to thank Kathy and Dave, who were looking after my flat, because they did a great job and were always around in the evening in our kitchens and then going to the Student Unions parties with us and helping the people who had one drink too much. Thank you guys. The first night and the first day were probably the scariest days as I did not know anybody yet but after that it was great (but still scary as you still don’t know anybody really).

During the day I had some introduction and networking events from my course, where I talked to a lot of people from my course. The networking events are one of the best things about studying at the School of Management as it helps you to get to know your course colleagues and to make friends as it is much easier to make friends over pizza and beer compared to making friends during a lecture.

During the night though my flatmates and I went to all the SU main events at the Founder’s Hall. I have to say that I did not enjoy every minute of every event because there were times when I just thought, “What am I doing here? I could be at Vienna with my friends, having a great time”, but these times were rare and I was able to ignore these thoughts because I knew the first year at university will be hard and that it is okay to be homesick from time to time.

All in all, the Student Union did a wonderful job and I recommend every International student to get a Fresher’s wristband when they start university as it allows you to experience Fresher’s week in a proper English way and you meet so many people, which might be your future friends. At one party I lost my whole flat but I just talked to a bunch of people who I thought looked nice and it turned out that one of the girls is German and now we are friends. So it is really important that you come to university with an open mind and just talk to everybody. That’s probably the most useful lesson I learned during Fresher’s week. “ Just talk to everybody! Most of the people will appreciate it.” I don’t want to say more about Fresher’s week because I don’t want to spoil it for the next generation of Fresher’s, but I can tell you, that the University of Bath students know how to party and they like their fancy dresses. So as an International student you should be prepared to dress up according to the theme of the main event and just have fun!

 

Receiving my Matura and preparing for University

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

In my home country, Austria, you take the Matura instead of the A-levels. The exams are a combination of oral and written examination and you already know, after your last oral exam, what grades you have gotten at all the other exams. The fact that these grades would decide about my future path of life made me more nervous than the exams themselves. So in the end, I was so nervous about my exam results that the only thing I could do was laugh. So I just tried to laugh my nervousness away, but it did not help. Fortunately, the long hours of studying paid off and I received the best grades possible in Austria. Unfortunately, I knew that I still had to take the IELTS test, an English test from the British Council, in order to be accepted to the University of Bath.

Looking back at this time, I can just advise all the other potential international students that you should definitely take the IELTS test or any other English qualification tests well in advance just in order that you get a chance of retaking it, because I did it at the last moment and it really stressed me out. But finally, I was formally accepted at the University of Bath. This was at the beginning of July.

The last three months just flew by and right now I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Birmingham because before I will drive to the University of Bath, I will spend some days with the family I spent half a year with when I was sixteen and on student exchange in the UK. Back then, I was even more scared than I am right now, because I was so young and my English wasn’t so good and I did not know anything about the town or family I would live with. In the end, I had a great time in Walsall near Birmingham and I knew that I would love to study in the UK, because I just loved the British mentality and now it all came true. I am really going back to the UK to study.

The last three days before my departure were horrible for me. I had to start packing and I had to say goodbye to my family and my friends and my hometown. Actually I did not really start packing until my last day in Vienna because just the thought about packing my whole life into two suitcases made me sad.  On the one hand I was and still am really excited about starting university in Bath but on the other hand I am really scared and sad. I can’t believe that I am trading my comfortable life in Vienna for an unknown future in Bath, but I believe that you should try to step out of your own comfort zone in order to experience something incredible and that is what I am hoping for. I hope that the University of Bath will allow me to experience something incredible.

Photo of Mirella at farewell meal

That’s me while my friends are singing “Happy Birthday”

I thought that the last time I would see my friends would be a tearful event but it wasn’t at all. We went to a pizzeria and one of my friends baked a cake for me. When I asked the waiter if it was okay to cut the cake at the restaurant he must have misunderstood me because he put a sparkler on the cake. So my friends started to sing “Happy Birthday” for me on my farewell party. After the singing I knew that I don’t have to see my friends every week in order to stay close, but I know that their life will continue even without me, but after all we live in the 21st century and I will be able to Skype or WhatsApp with them as often as I want to just to stay up-to-date with their life’s and in the mean time I can just stalk them on Facebook.

I have to go to the gate now but on my next blog post I will hopefully tell you some things about my first week at University, but right now here are the questions which are bothering me right now and which I hope to answer the next time:

  • Are my flatmates nice?
  • Is my room big enough?
  • Is it hard to share a bathroom or a kitchen with 5 or more people?
  • Are the any other Austrian or German students at the university?

And probably the most important one: Is Fresher’s week as much fun as I think it will be?