Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Topic: School of Management

Ich bin ein Berliner

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management, Second year

After two horrendous weeks of exams, it was time for the long-awaited and deserved Inter-semester break. Different university societies plan different trips during this week-long break before Semester 2 starts. The most well know trip is probably the Ski Trip to Val Thornes, which I have heard is quite awesome and you can read Hannah's blog post about it here.

As the Chair of the German Society it was my responsibility to plan the trip to Germany’s capital Berlin. The planning had already started in October, so I was really glad when exams finished and my little German society group was able to finally board a bus to Gatwick Airport. After a little detour on the motorway as our bus driver missed the exit to Gatwick and a lot of panic from my side, we arrived at the airport at 11 am and landed in Berlin in the afternoon.

Our hostel was literally in the middle of Berlin – the former East Berlin - just right next to the famous Alexanderplatz with its TV Tower. At the check-in it felt like we had never left Bath as it was a Belushis pub and hostel, which we also have in Bath and most of the staff only spoke English and hardly knew any German. However, once we left the little hostel bubble behind us it hit me hard that we are in Berlin, one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in Europe. You will find a typical East German building called Plattenbau in one street and just around the corner you will find a modern skyscraper.

It was crazy to see how the division of Germany and especially Berlin still has an impact on the city itself. The city itself remembers its famous division wall- the Berliner Mauer – with two brick rows on the street to mark where the wall stood. For me it was unbelievable to imagine that this city was divided into a Communist and a Democratic part for such a long time and that this ended just a few years before I was born.

As this was more or less a study trip to experience German culture and get a sense of living in a German city, we planned a lot of activities. It included a lot of German food – Currywurst, Schweinsbraten and Bread – and of course good German beer and Radler, a mixture between beer and lemonade. Considering I ate meat twice a day you would think that German cuisine only consist of meat dishes, but the vegetarian in our group always found something to eat as well. Even the non-drinkers were able to survive without drinking beer.

Embracing German food and beer

Embracing German food and beer

For me, the most interesting part of our trip was to visit the German Reichstag, the house of the German parliament. In this house you can actually feel the drastic political changes Germany underwent in the 20th and 21st century before it became this European superpower. The outside of the building was built in the monarchy, whereas inside you will find a modern glass cubicle designed by Norman Foster to house the united German government. However, the parliament only started its work in the new building ten years after the reunification. In the inside you will also find Russian graffiti left by the Russian soldiers at the end of the Second World War and you will still see some marks left by bombs.

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

The most impressive part about the building is probably the glass dome. The idea behind it is that members of the parliament should look up to see members of the public walking around to be remembered why they are in parliament in the first place. The public on the other side can look down on the elected members to have an eye on them so that something like the Nazi regime cannot happen again.

All in all, I can only recommend going away in the inter-semester break with a society. You will see a new city, you will meet new people and you are predicted to have some fun and might even make some friends.

 

Applying for a year abroad

  

📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

There are certain expectations that you should set for yourself if you're planning to go to university.

  1. Someone will always steal your milk and not own up to it
  2. You will often be faced with the choice of going to your 9:15am lecture or sleeping in
  3. You are going to spend most of your Christmas holidays studying for January exams.

Personally, the third one is holding true at the moment but this year I am also in the midst of applying for placements for my year abroad. As part of my International Management & Modern Languages (French) degree, or FIMML for short, I spend my third year in France. I have 12 months abroad and this can be spent in any of the following combinations:

  1. 12 months placement
  2. 12 months in a French business school
  3. 6 months placement / 6 months business school.

For anyone who is considering applying to France, it is worth noting that the French government has just brought in a law which restricts placements to 6 months maximum within any organisation. In order to spend 12 months in a French placement, it is now necessary to apply for two separate 6 month placements in different departments of the same company or different companies altogether. My cohort is the first to experience this new law and therefore it will be interesting to see how it all plays out!

Preparation

From the offset, our year abroad officer, Ninon, has been brilliant in preparing us for our applications. I will not get bogged down in the details of the preparation but if you attend all her presentations which will be scheduled into your timetable, you will be ready to start applying. In terms of learning to write French CVs and cover letters, this will be dealt with in your french seminars but it is coordinated between Ninon and the seminar tutors. For this reason, I would say it is crucial that you do not skip any of your French seminars in 2nd year.

Ninon's presentations have included:

  • A presentation on all the different business schools
  • Advice on applying for placements
  • Organised meetings with 4th year students who have just returned from their year abroad, and much more.

All of this information has helped me to make an informed decision on how I want to spend my year abroad and I'm going to attempt to apply for two 6 months placements. I've actually just submitted my first application and am now moving onto my second so let's discuss that and see how straightforward it was.

If you want to go to a business school, it acts like an exchange. Uni of Bath takes some of their students and in return they take some of ours. There are a number of prestigious French business schools which you can apply to including multiple ones in Paris, Strasbourg and Nancy. You'll be inserted into one of the business courses and complete your modules in French. These marks are then converted and added to your degree at Bath. I had the pleasure of visiting Nancy last June and it is a beautiful city in the east of France. I was also in Strasbourg train station however, I'm not sure if that counts.

Nancy Ville, France

Nancy Ville, France

Applying

Around November, companies will start making placements available to apply for. These will be sent to your year abroad officer and they will then post them on Moodle. Moodle is an online service which every university student has access to with their online login details. It also contains all your course and module resources. Once on Moodle, you can download the job advertisement, see the application deadline, see who you need to send your applications to etc.

My first application was to a company called Thales. They're a huge global company, specialising in defense, aerospace and security and all those sorts of things. Thales, like many other companies will have a good relationship with University of Bath because of our fantastic reputation. As a result, some of the placements advertised will be exclusively for University of Bath students which reduces the competition to your cohort.

Some applications will ask you for a CV and cover letter in French or English. I chose to send both in french because the next step will be a Skype interview in french. My logic is that if I have already submitted two documents in good French, my interviewers will already have faith that I can write well in french on the chance that I stumble with my french in the interview. It is worth bearing in mind that most companies will appreciate that you are not yet fluent and the point of the year abroad will be to become fluent in french so there is some leeway (apparently). Still, you want to impress them right?

Another useful tip is to try and get into contact with any Bath students who have either had a placement with the company or are currently on placement with the company. I am really lucky because I actually have a friend who is on her year abroad with Thales at the moment. Well, I use the word friend. To her I'm probably just the annoying Irish kid who is constantly begging for help with his CV at 2am (3am in Paris). If you're reading this, I'm sorry but also thank you. Yeah. Moving swiftly on.

So I typed up my cover letter which was one page long; I tweaked my CV to make it specific to the role I was applying to and I emailed it to Thales. It was right before the Christmas holidays so I don't expect a reply for a little while. However, I'm going to send another one tomorrow and hope that I get an interview for at least one of them. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to spending time with my dog. It is Christmas day after all. Happy Holidays!

My Dog 

 

Second year counts

  

📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

In first year everything is fun and giggles. You find everything exciting, as it is your first year at university. Of course, not everything is so fun (see my other post “Rollercoaster” for more information on this). However, second year is a completely different experience.

You have already made friends, you know your way around town and university and you already know you like to do with your free time. This should of course not discourage you to try out new things in second year or make no new friendships. In fact I have made some new and strengthened some loose friendships. The main difference is though that “Second year counts”.

Second year counts

What does this actually mean? First year is there to make it easier for us students to get into the vibe of university. You get to know your course, you learn how to write essays and you learn about plagiarism and more importantly how to avoid it. This is why your grades in first year do not count towards your final grade. It is one of the wonderful things university has to offer. It allows students to live a little bit. However, students should not forget that grades are still important if you want to secure a placement. Most employers are looking for a minimum of a 2:1, which means you have to get over 60%. If you attend regularly lectures and revise before the exams, chances are high of attaining a 2:1, even with experiencing Freshers' life to the full.

Second year counts 32% towards your final grade. What an odd number to be honest. As this grade might decide about your future, if you think about your employability after university, it is important what grades you achieve in second year. This puts a little bit of pressure on.

However, not only do you have to worry about your grades but you also have to secure a placement for your third year. Personally, this stresses me a little. While I am writing this, I am on my Christmas break at home. Unfortunately, it is not a real break like the summer holidays. I regard it more as three weeks at home, which I have to devote to studying. Obviously, I don’t revise all the time.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone!

After all, I still have holidays and I want to celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve.  As a student you also have to relax after the deadline horror of courseworks before the end of the semester. However, I do spend at least an hour or two every day revising. Obviously, I will increase this devoted time in revision week because as you already know “Second year counts” and five exams are quite a lot to write within two weeks.

How to spend the holidays in second year

How to spend the holidays in second year

The rest of the time of my Christmas holiday I spent worrying about my placement. I am not too anxious about not securing a placement. The placement team is trying to be really helpful and there are a lot of opportunities to apply for placements but I would rather have one sooner than later. Furthermore, you still have to apply for these placements and it takes quite a lot of time to write a good cover letter. It does not help though if your grandmother is constantly asking you if you have finally found work or if your family just talks about you finding a placement during the Christmas dinner. So if anybody is reading this and wants to offer me a placement, just leave a comment. I would be really grateful, it just has to be 12-months long, be in the field of marketing and hopefully the paycheck at the end of the month can cover my rent!

Optimistic outlook

I hope I haven’t frightened anybody about university. I still think it was the best decision of my life to study at the University of Bath. However, second year and especially semester one of second year is not easy at all. Hopefully, second semester will be better. To be honest, I already know second semester will be better. I will have secured a placement and I will know where I will live. Most importantly though: I will only write two exams in May. This takes a lot of pressure from me as I prefer coursework over exams. Wish me luck!

 

Deadlines: 99 Problems and they're all due by Friday

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📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

The first thing I should say here is that I haven't actually got 99 problems and I don't actually have any deadlines set for Friday. I do have one for Tuesday but "I have one assignment and it's due on Tuesday" is more of a small talk conversation starter than a thought provoking blog title. No matter, it is what it is.

I have however just come out of an incredibly intense four weeks in which I was pushed to the limit in terms of trying to balance university studies with everything else. This has led me to ask if trying to balance too much is worth it, what the drawbacks are and what is the best way to cope in situations where you feel like you're drowning in work.

I started off this semester by resigning from my part time job at a local restaurant in Bath with the plan of focussing 100% on my studies and relaxing this year. I've worked part time with my studies since I was 15 and I'd decided it was time for a year to just study. This all went down the drain less than a week later when I received an unexpected email from a very well known technology company, inviting me to attend an interview for a position in their store - I really couldn't say no.

By the end of October, I'd managed to secure a job within the company and went on to begin working in one of their stores which for the first few weeks was incredibly demanding because I had so much to learn and do - I was spending on average 45 hours per week there for the month of November before I resumed normal contracted hours at the beginning of December.

On top of the 45 hours at work, I had to make sure I attended all of my lectures which involved some very creative time management. I had multiple coursework deadlines due throughout November along with a number of mid term assessments. So how did I try to manage this and what were the drawbacks?

Staying on Top of Coursework & Assessments

The key to staying well on top of coursework is to start it as early as possible. Most courses will give you your coursework assignments in the first couple of weeks and as soon as you know the questions, you can begin to get some books and start reading about it at the start of semester before you get too busy.

I'm really not a nerdy person - I usually facilitate watching Netflix all day by setting myself personal deadlines for a week or two before the actual deadline and force myself to have my essays finished by then. Just before my crazy four weeks, I realise that I needed to get on top of things early so I went home to Northern Ireland for 4 days. In the 4 days, I completed two essays by dedicating two full days to each and not allowing myself to return to Bath without two essays ready for submission. I find this tactic of doing loads of research and blasting the essay out in a couple of days is often a good one. It stops you dragging out one essay for a few weeks. It also lets you quickly check a whole task off your long list of things to do and this will majorly reduce your stress levels - make sure you do adequate research before starting though!

With two essays already ready to go before I'd even started working, that left me to organise my calendar and schedule in specific times to prepare for my 4 assessments and write my remaining essay. I found that having an incredibly precise daily calendar allowed me to keep on track by knowing exactly what I was doing and when. I'd usually prepare this a day in advance and it looked something like this for a few weeks:

My busy schedule

My busy schedule

Drawbacks

As you can see from the calendar picture above, I didn't really have much of a social life over those few weeks but at the same time, I was making a lot of new friends in the training for my new job so there was a social side to that in some respects. I also missed out on things like going to the gym which I usually do quite regularly to relax which was a definite drawback.

I found that the most important thing was making sure that I got adequate sleep because if you get out of a regular sleeping pattern, it becomes incredibly difficult to catch up. That meant strict bed times and wake up times. I tried to set aside an hour at the end of every day before going to sleep where I could just chill and watch some TV or see some friends but it didn't always happen.

There were multiple times where I felt like there was no end in sight and the lack of free time often made it feel like days were just running into one another.

Is it worth it?

I think that for anyone who tries to get involved in extracurricular activities at university, there is always going to be a point where you're going to be biting off more than you can chew and sometimes you are going to have a couple of really intense weeks where you maybe don't get to do all the things you'd usually do.

Whilst I wouldn't recommend taking on so much that you constantly find yourself too busy to cope, I would say that there are times where you just need to roll up your sleeves, have a few late nights and get your head down for a few weeks. It's important that you stay on top of work and have a clear plan about how you're going to keep on top of everything and have a time in the future that you're working towards where you know you can finally relax.

"There is no substitute for hard work" (Thomas Edison)

 

How to run a society

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management, Second year

During Freshers' Week people tend to put their name down for at least 10 societies. Obviously a normal human being cannot be involved with 10 societies and pass university as well. However, I would encourage getting involved with 1-2 societies and 1-2 sport clubs. I tried Lacrosse and joined German Society and the Baking Society. After the first semester I only stuck to German Society and when election time for next years committee came up I decided to nominate myself. Eventually I was voted as the Chair of the German Society. Back then I did not have a clear understanding of what the role would involve but I was prepared to spend some hours each week dedicated for the German Society and it seemed a fun activity to meet new people.

In the German Society we have 4 committee members – bigger societies tend to have more positions – Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Social Secretary. My role is basically to be the CEO of the society and do different things, a lot of them involve administrative stuff. The secretary is responsible for the communication with the Societies members. The Treasurer handles everything involved with money but as we do not have a big budget, this is not too complicated. The Social Secretary is there to organize the fun stuff – the socials!

Before the end of my first year, the handover from last year's committee to us happened. Basically, you have to fill out a lot of forms and just think about what you want to do with the society in the next year. For us this was a little bit complicated as our Treasurer and Social Secretary were on placement in Germany and Austria. However, we eventually did it and handed in all the forms (does not mean we will now stick to everything we wrote!)

During the summer I was only responsible for filling out forms for Freshers' Week. However, as I realised later, I only filled one out of two forms out. That is why German Society was only at Freshers' Activities Fair and not at the Societies Activities Day on Parade. We only realized that on the day of the Societies Activities Day as our society did not have a stall. I was quite depressed after I realized it was my fault. I thought we would not be able to get anybody to join us. However, it was also a chance for us. We were not prepared at all for the Societies Activities Day,  so it might have looked quite unprofessional if we had a stall. As we now had some days left to actually think about how we should decorate our stall for the Activities Fair we put a lot of thought in it. We baked cakes, made German bread, had sweets, and printed out flyers. It was quite a success and as a result we now have 58 official members.

Our German stall at the Freshers' activity fair

Our German stall at the Freshers' activity fair

The main thing societies do is to host socials. Our first social happened in the second week as we wanted to get involved with the new Freshers' as soon as possible. We wanted to start with a bang and organised two barrels of beer and German food.  Unfortunately, or should I say luckily, so many people showed up that we ran out of wine after half an hour. We clearly miscalculated how many people would actually show up, but the whole committee was relieved that so many people attended.

Promoting German beer!

Promoting German beer!

For the next few weeks my society has planned some socials, film nights and the Christmas meal. The biggest event we have though is the annual Berlin Trip- Wish me luck that everything goes well with the planning of it. *fingers crossed*

Here is my top 10 list of what I have learned so far about running a society:

1)   You should read EVERY e-mail the SU Society team sends you REALLY carefully
2)   Running a society involves filling out a ton of forms
3)   You meet a lot of people and by the end of the year you will have made new friends
4)   Being part of a society takes up a lot of time – do not only do it because it looks good on your CV, although....
5)   It does look good on your CV!
6)   Finding a date when every committee member can attend a meeting takes sooo long
7)   You have to be the n°1 fan of your society – if you are not passionate about your society then nobody will want to join it
8)   You talk about your society all the time and might even dream about it (mostly nightmares about filling out forms)
9)   You will get addicted on checking how many people have joined the society & how many people actually came to socials
10) It is a lot of fun and I would recommend it to anybody who is willing to spend some hours a week dedicated to your society

 

International Friendships

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

As we all know University is not only about studying. It’s also about making friends for a lifetime. Fresher’s Year is probably the easiest year when it comes to making friends. Everybody is new and probably doesn’t know a lot of people at university, so everybody is looking for new friends.

In Freshers' Week you will probably meet and talk to a dozen people you will never ever see again, even though the University of Bath is not too big.  You might meet them during Fresher’s Week. You might live with them. You might study the same course as them. You might join the same society. You might even meet them in the library. Who knows? I just want to assure you that you should not be worried about making friends. Just be yourself and be friendly!

The University of Bath has a student body of 30% of international students. This makes the chances high that you will make at least one international friend or if you are a foreigner like me you will probably have some more as you can relate to each other. The good thing about international friends is that you can visit them in their countries, which is very exciting.  You should not forget you have nearly 4 months off in the summertime, and I used my summertime for working and meeting friends.

My first trip was to Poland. I have never ever been to Poland or had Polish friends, but however at University I have made quite a few Polish friends. One of my Polish friends lives near Gdansk, which you might know as Danzig. Her town is called Gdyna and hosts one of the biggest and best musical festivals in Poland – Open’eer. I have never been to a festival as I don’t enjoy sleeping in tents, but as my friend lives quite near to the festival me and another friend decided to sleep at hers and go to the festival in the evening. I can tell you it was pretty awesome. Even though it was in Poland they had such major acts as “Mumford&Sons”, “Major Lazor”, “Alt-J” and even “Years&Years”, who were the main act at the University’s Summer Ball. Apart from the music I quite fell in love with pirogues. If you have never tried them you should definitely do so.

My next meeting with a University friend happened in my hometown in Vienna. My former flatmate was interrailing with some friends through Europe and they had a day stop in Vienna. After 12h in Vienna  my friend said: “I would have never seen Vienna like this without you as a local”. So listen up future Fresher’s: Make some friends in really nice cities so that they can show you around.

Another friend of mine is the driver for the University of Bath’s racing team. During the summer time they travel to different Formula Student events where they compete with their self-made car against other universities. One of their stops was in Spielberg in Austria. As Spielberg is only a 2h drive away from me, I decided to visit them in Spielberg. To be honest, I am not a big fan of cars and I have never seen a Formula 1 event. However, I quite enjoyed Formula Student. You see all these university students who spent a year designing and building a racing car and then competing against each other. So if you like this kind of stuff you should definitely have a look at them during Fresher’s Fair in September and think about joining in.

The Formula Student event

The Formula Student event at Spielberg

Just a day after I came back from Spielberg I had a flight to Düsseldorf. Unfortunately, it rained the whole three days while I was there. It was horrible, but it was still great to see my future flatmate Linda again. She showed me Wuppertal, Düsseldorf, Cologne and some other small German towns. If I hadn’t known her, I would have never thought about even travelling to Düsseldorf.

Kolner (Cologne) Dom (Cathedral)

Kolner (Cologne) Dom (Cathedral)

My last visit to see one University friend was in Munich. I made this friend at the last day of Fresher’s Week in the toilet queue. So as I have said you never know where you will make friends at the University of Bath. However, this guy is also part of German Society, so it was easy for me not to loose him out of sight. I was only there for two days but it was really good to catch up with him and hear about his placement.

Great view of Munich's sykline

Great view of Munich's sykline

Seeing so many of my University friends during the summer made me realize that I can’t wait to get back to Bath. I love my friends from home, but I also enjoy the international community at Bath. Fortunately, I am only a handful of days away from seeing them all in Bath again.

 

Freshers' Week 2015

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

Two months to go until Freshers' Week 2015. I can’t believe it. It feels like yesterday when I was a frightened Fresher, who was looking forward to Freshers' Week 2014 and now I am part of Freshers' Crew 2015.

I bet all of you are really excited for your first week as a university student, and I am excited to be part of this year's Freshers' Week Freshers' Crew! If you were wondering- 800 people applied to be part of this year's Freshers' Crew, but unfortunately there are only 350 places available. I think this gives you a good insight into the community we have here at the University of Bath.

Right now the Freshers' Week Event Team is working day and night to put together an amazing first week. We Crew Members already had a pre information talk in May, just to get an insight into what will happen in Freshers' Week. I can' tell you much, but can tell you that it is going to be bigger than last year's Freshers' Week. If you are curious about the main events and the themes for every day: check out their Facebook page.

Don't forget, Freshers' Week is not only about partying with your new flatmates and friends: it’s also about meeting people from your course, getting to know the campus and the city, and socialising. The Freshers' Crew we are here to help you with all of this, but the best advice I can offer is to get involved with as many activities and events as possible. Don’t worry it’s easier than you might think, as everybody is eager to make friends. Before I came to university, my friend threw a big birthday party and I didn’t know that many people, so I made it my goal to say at least hello to every person at this birthday party. This really helped me when I arrived at university. Though it is still difficult (and even more difficult if your first language isn’t English like me), it can be really hard to understand people with different accents!

Before I arrived at University, I had never been to the Campus , so I looked at all the pictures of the campus and from my accommodation. Unfortunately, there are not that many and the pictures just showed the rooms. It didn’t look like somebody actually lives in them, so I couldn’t imagine myself living there. I was still curious to get as much information as I could before starting at university. So I joined my accommodation page on FB and looked at the profiles of the people I would live with. Here are all the links to the accommodations pages:

City
Eastwood A
Eastwood B
Marlborough
Norwood
Quads 1: Acer
Quads 2: Bay
Quads 3: Chestnut
Quads 4: Damson & Ebony
Solsbury
Westwood A
Westwood B
Westwood C
Woodland

These Facebook pages are a great way to start communicating with your flatmates, ask questions and just to get a feeling about living on campus. As part of being a Freshers' Crewmember my job is it to look after a flat with another Crew Member. Fortunately, I got allocated to my former flat on campus, so if anybody has an offer for Mendip 5, I am going to be your designated team member. I can’t wait to meet my Freshers!

You may be disappointed with your accommodation allocation, as not everyone gets their first choice, but I can tell you, it does not really matter. All the accommodation options are great and if you are really disappointed, just keep in mind, that you are only living there for a year (which will go really quickly).

Furthermore, not only are the Freshers' Week Event Team busy, but so also are all the members of Society committees. As the Chair of German Society, my committee members and I had to fill in a ton load of forms and to start planning what we are going to do next year. For example we are planning Stammtische, movie nights and our annual trip to Berlin. So if you are already interested in joining the German Society next year, have a look at our Facebook page.

Of course, the German Society is not the only Society at the University of Bath. We have so many, I cant even list them all, but here is the link so you can check them out.

I can tell you, it was one of the best decisions of my life to go to the University of Bath and I can’t wait to share the experiences I had with the new Freshers. You have an exiting year in front of you!

 

Joining Uni of Bath in September? What to expect...

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📥  Matt, School of Management

Congratulations! You made it to this blog post, and so there's a good chance you have been accepted into the University of Bath. We're ranked 5th in the UK according to the Guardian for this academic year so you can sit back and relax - you've made it into a great Uni with brilliant staff and some of the country's brightest  students and you're one of them. No pressure.

Whether you've completed IB, A levels or BTEC, Uni is probably the beginning of your adult life. You know how a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly? Well university is where you are transformed from an annoying school kid who thinks they know it all into a respectable member of society who pays their taxes, lives in the suburbs and has a Labrador. But first things first:

Arrivals Weekend & Freshers

Arrivals weekend is fast approaching and if you're like me, you're probably super excited to move into your own room and meet all your new friends, and so you should be! I arrived first thing on the Saturday which was great because I got to meet everyone as they arrived. I also got first pick of the cupboards in the kitchen. If you've seen Pitch Perfect, you may remember the scene at the start where the protagonist is arriving on campus and as she walks through there's loads of stands and cool kids and that girl moving in with about 300 teddy bears. Fully expect that to be the case when you arrive.

Don't be nervous or afraid - everyone is in the exact same boat as you.

Saying "Hello"

Chances are you've already been talking to some of your flatmates and course mates on Facebook. I'd already spoken to most of my flat before I got to Bath so it's a good ice-breaker if you can make a bit of conversation, but don't worry if you don't. You won't be able to make a proper impression until you've actually spent some time with your flatmates and impressions often change over time as everyone becomes more comfortable and more like themselves anyway. And you will be closer to some flat mates than others - that's just how it works.

Doing Things

Rule #1 of arrivals and freshers - do things. Do everything. Get involved! There is so much to do and so many free things being given away. There should be an online Freshers' Week timetable provided by the Students' Union but it only includes the main events. You can find loads of info on Freshers week here. If you're at a loose end go and explore the campus with your new friends and you will find loads of things to do. There will be a number of opportunities to attend the Freshers' Fair. This is a great opportunity to explore all the clubs and societies that the University of Bath has to offer from sports societies to the Cheese & Wine society if that's what floats your boat. A full list of societies can be found here.

There will also be a departmental specific timetable for Freshers' Week which will include a lot of introductory sessions which are really useful in terms of getting to know more about university life.  This will be made available to you online from your department. Not everything will be compulsory but everything will be worthwhile.

It's obviously an emotional time for saying goodbye to your parents who you may not see again for another 3 months but it's really important that you do make time to spend with your new friends.

You may also find some romances developing within your flat group. This is strictly prohibited among most flat groups but like all rules, it was made to be broken. It is particularly common during Freshers' Week and if it continues after this, you will often find that people refuse to put a label on it to avoid "complications" if things go wrong. If you find yourself in a flat romance, just try to keep it secret for as long as possible but don't kid yourself - people will eventually find out and they will feed off the drama like drama vampires.

Your First Week of Lectures- what to expect

Much like during school, the first class of any module will generally be an introduction to the course. Your lecturers and seminar tutors will often outline their plan for the semester and discuss the sorts of topics that you will be covering. They will also inform you as to the methods of examination and assessment - this may be written coursework; an individual or group presentation and of course, exams.

It is important to make a note of your coursework deadline in the first week and plan a time in the semester to start it because unlike school, you are not spoon fed. Your lecturer's will rarely advise you to start your coursework at any time and may not mention it again until after the deadline has passed. However, if you have any questions about it you can email them for guidance or talk to them after a lecture. They will rarely tell you what you can write but they can give you general advice to help you understand the question. They may also be able to guide you to useful resources such as library books.

These introduction lectures can be a little tedious. However, even if a lot of the information given may seem of little importance there will be key points on coursework and expectations that it will be important to take note of.

During the second week, you will dive straight into learning. Lectures are completely different from school and they're loads better. You can take your laptop to take notes and if you really want to, you can just sit on Facebook for 2 hours but this will be of no benefit to you in the long run. On one occasion during a statistics lecture, the lesson started off talking about mean, median and mode. Of course, I decided that this was a pointless exercise; opened up my Macbook and started playing that game on Sporcle where you have 15 minutes to name all the countries in the world. Bad idea. After I'd named about 87 countries and couldn't remember how to spell Kazakhstan, I reverted my attention to the board which was now filled with difficult algebraic formula which I did not understand at all.

From this day, I made a personal rule to avoid bringing my laptop to lectures. However, if you have more self discipline than I do then you may find the assistance of technology invaluable in the classroom.

To stay on track, the best thing to do is to plan a time to read through each lecture again shortly after the original. Some lecturers make a great use of a service called Panopto. This software records lectures. It has a video camera which records the lecturer but it also records the lecturer's computer monitor so you can see any powerpoints or videos they may show alongside it. This is an incredibly useful revision tool if you need to refer back to a specific lecture where you don't remember something.

Online Resources

To make the most of your time at university, there are 3 main web resources available to you as a student which you will use on a daily basis.

Moodle

Moodle is an online portal where you can log in with your Bath ID and you will find links to all the modules in your course. Here, lecturers will put up resources for each lecture. This may include powerpoints to accompany the lecture, practice questions and answers and extra reading material that they may want you to read over. My economics lecturer always posted links to funny and interesting podcasts relevant to the lecture.

Most subjects also put online multiple choice quizzes on Moodle. These are a fantastic way to revise as they grade you each time and give you feedback on your answers, often explaining why you may have chosen the wrong answer.

Webmail

Webmail is your university email address. This will become your professional email address for the next 4 years so if you apply for placements or other such things, I'd advise using this. You can view it online, and there are instructions on the University of Bath website on how to access webmail via your phone or computer's email application if you prefer using applications over the web, which is what I chose to do.

It is important to check your emails a few times every day because important information from lecturer's and heads of department will be communicated to you via this method. One girl in my flat never checked her emails and one month later realised that she'd missed meetings with her personal tutor and director of studies; vital information for coursework and also rescheduled seminars!

SAMIS

SAMIS is where you can go online and view a few specific pieces of information and carry out certain tasks such as viewing grades, uploading copies of your passport and also receiving important information about your university application - bursaries, scholarships and registration information.

Other Essential Advice

Last October I wrote a blog post detailing my advice to Freshers. In it I included loads of things that I experienced first hand during my first month at University. It is full of even more advice for anyone joining us at Bath this September! And of course if you have questions that aren't answered by this blog, you can post a comment and I will reply personally.

So it's time to go back to work. I'm writing this blog on A level  results day and today I'm working in the admissions call centre for the university. If you've called us today with questions about your place or application there's a good chance we may have had a chat already! So good luck, and I'll see you in September!

#gotintobath

 

Final Moments as a Fresher

  

📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

My life as a Fresher is over.

At the beginning of May I never thought this moment would actually happen. May is exam season at the University of Bath, so I spent the whole month behind my desk or in the library studying. It was horrible. However, it is over now. I don’t have to revise again until January or so (probably earlier thanks to midterm tests, but I don’t want to think about these yet). Not only did I take - and hopefully pass - four exams, more importantly I mastered the art of sticky buns. Every student copes differently with exam stress. For me the best way of relaxing is baking and exercising.  That’s what I did. I baked in the afternoon when my concentration level was at it lowest and went to the gym or swimming after dinner.  My tip for next years Freshers is to do the same. Find something you like and do it in between studying. It will help you to relax.

A sticky raspberry bun

A sticky raspberry bun

My last exam was followed by an amazing last week which was also sad. Finally, I was able to socialize with all my friends again and enjoy everything the city has to offer. Throughout the week my friends started to pack their things  and move out from university accommodation, and I started to think about packing all of my stuff. But first let me explain the difference between a British student and an International student moving with regards to moving out of university accommodation.

Date of leaving

The British student will most likely ask his or her family when they are able to pick them up from university with all their belongings. This will likely be at a convenient time (i.e. midday or in the afternoon!)

The International student will pick a date according to a cheap flight. This might even mean leaving university at 3am to get a bus to London (that’s a true story!)

Packing

The British student will start packing the day before they go home and might even wait until their parents arrive so they can help (or do the washing up!) Their parents will take everything with them in the car, and it doesn’t matter when they leave- there might even be the chance to go for lunch in town with their parents.

The International student actually starts packing a month before leaving. As an international student you realise that you can’t possible fit all of your belongings into two suitcases. So first, you might check your house contract to see if you are allowed to move your stuff into your new house before the summer (unfortunately, most students are only allowed to do this in July). You might ask some friends to store your stuff for them over the summer, although this could be a problem if they realise that you own too much weird stuff (like a bread making machine!) or if you will be arriving back at Uni earlier than them afte rthe summer break.

Luckily there are actually companies which will store stuff for you and pick it up and even bring it back (there are some great ones out there, many of which offer student discounts). Often it can be almost as cheap to store a lot of stuff compared to just one box. It is a good idea to look for other International students who might want also want to store their stuff and split the cost. As you will probably be focusing on revision rather than packing your stuff (any your flatmates' stuff) here are some tips from my experience:

  • Unless it is going to be very expensive, it is better to have too many boxes than too few!  Otherwsie you may end up throwing away non essential items!
  • You will almost certainly have more stuff than you imagine
  • If you will be be packing on behalf of friends, make sure their stuff is packed into boxes before they leave

Once you have packed your belongings into storage you will of course need to pack some luggage to take home.  It is not easy to limit yourself to two suitcases! In fact, I needed the help of a flatmate to sit on my suitcase so that I could finally close it.

Saying goodbye to my view

Saying goodbye to my view

After realizing that you are finally ready to move out of university accommodation, you may well be hit by nostalgia. Living on campus is a great experience, but eventually you will need to catch a bus/train/taxi to the airport. After landing hopefully your patents/friends/family will pick you up and drive you home (otherwise it is more travelling with luggage on public transport, which is not always fun!).

I just want to say that the life as an International student can be difficult, but it is definitely worth it. Just start thinking about and planning moving your stuff early! I know that I will miss the University of Bath during the summer, not least just seeing the ducks around campus!

 

Personal Statement... where do you start?

  

📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Matt, School of Management

If you are starting to think about applying to university in September then you will probably be starting to think about (and hopefully not panic about!) your UCAS personal statement.

Writing a personal statement is somewhat like beginning to write a blog post - you have no idea how to start it and next thing you know, it's your deadline day and you write the first thing that comes into your head. That's what I'm doing right now and yes, it makes a pretty witty start to this blog post but if you do the same thing with your personal statement, it probably won't work. And if it does work, you should probably forget about Uni and just jump straight into being an author, write a good book, make millions and retire at 35.

When it comes to your personal statement, you need to dedicate the time and effort that it deserves because even if you can get 4 A*s the person with the same grades and a cracking personal statement may take your university place from you, so here's some advice!

Introduction

First impressions count, even on paper - your introduction should be short but effective. I know some people who start using quotes, others who suggested ideas that they had relating to the course they wanted to study. I wanted to study French and International Management so I used a bit of both by saying:

"If I asked you to think of the greatest invention of all time, what would you imagine?

I believe that it is language and the ability to communicate with other people."

Writing about your Choice of Course

After this it is good to talk about why you chose the course you're applying for. Things you should think about are:

  • Why you enjoy the subject
  • Is there a particular aspect that you are interested in?
  • Do you look forward to studying the subject in greater depth?
  • Did your work experience confirm your interest?
  • Do you have a particular career in mind and why do you want to follow it?

Writing about your work experience

This is a good opportunity to show the university how your work experience has confirmed your interest in your area of study. It is also an opportunity for you to list any skills that you may have had a chance to develop, such as:

  • Communication
  • Team work
  • Independent work
  • Computer literacy
  • Managing others
  • Working to deadlines
  • Diplomacy
  • Problem solving

If you have had a work experience placement through your school or college that has nothing at all to do with the course you are applying for, don't worry! If you want to, you can talk about how your work experience affirmed that you did not want to work in that area. If this is the case, be sure to state something that affirms the choice of course you are making now!

Writing about your school / college experience

In this section, you should concentrate on your most recent years of study as experiences you gained when you were 13 are not as relevant as your more recent experiences. You should use this section to show the university that you are able to cope with the pressures of studying at university. Things you should show you are:

  • Self-motivated
  • Self-disciplined
  • Sociable
  • Independent
  • Able to strike a balance between work and relaxation

Writing about your extra-curricular activities

For most people, the vast majority of relative experiences will be gained within school and college but if there is something that you have achieved or experienced outside school that you feel is relevant, you should mention it here. This can be anything from hobbies to part time work or maybe a club you are part of outside of school or perhaps a sporting involvement.

Conclusion

You should use this last, short paragraph to sell yourself one last time. Bring the reader back to your choice of degree or your ability to be successful at university. It is important to present yourself as someone who will be able to take care of themselves at university. Do not be tempted to mention why you want to go to a certain university as this may prejudice any other universities that you have selected.

Final Tips

  1. Make sure your spelling and punctuation is perfect. Get someone to proof read it for you.
  2. If you have a reference writer, work with them. Plan it so that you are both saying different things. This way you maximise the amount of content you can include. If you both spend time talking about the same thing, it’s a waste of characters.
  3. Do not have unnecessary repetition
  4. Do not confuse self-confidence with empty boasting - they'll just think you're a spanner.
  5. Avoid negative words like "bad, fault, fail, hate"
  6. At the end of every sentence, ask yourself, "So what?" This will help you to make sure that you haven't wasted any characters. Every single sentence should give the university one more reason to want you.

So go and do it. Don't stress out. You will redraft it about 400 times. You will probably drink 476 cups of coffee. Just try not to miss the January deadline.

Good luck!