Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Topic: School of Management

Living in Woodland Court

  

📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

Aside from applying for uni itself, applying for accommodation is the most stressful experience of uni preparation- at least it was for me! I live in Woodland Court, and thought it would be good to offer a little personal insight into my accommodation block.

First of all, the rooms in Woodland Court rooms are larger than your average room in a halls of residence.

My bedroom

My bedroom

The bedrooms are ensuite, with a sink, a toilet and a shower (which you can use all at the same time). The shower has a shower curtain so it’s more like a wet room but the water drains quickly so you don’t end up flooding the whole room. There’s also one glass shelf to place various toiletries, and a large mirror.

Bathroom

Bathroom

On the bathroom door, there is a full-length mirror and to the side of this you have an open storage unit of four shelves and a hanging rail. There is also plenty of space above the storage unit and under your bed. I recommend investing in some large boxes for these areas if you have a lot of belongings as it makes everything a lot tidier. Next to the storage unit is a corner desk with loads of space and a shelf above it. There are also three drawers underneath the desk. The walls have 8 plug sockets, two aerial cables and an ethernet plug. Then on the opposite wall, you have a small double bed with three shelves next to it and a large pin board covering one wall. The room also comes with two bins and an armchair.

My very useful (and personalised) pinboard

My very useful (and personalised) pinboard

In our block, all walls are white apart from the desk wall which is bright green, and the armchair and provided bedding is blue. I used all my own bedding just because it makes your room a bit homelier, but if you do decide to use the university provided ones you can get them exchanged every Wednesday. We get our bedroom and bathroom cleaned every six weeks but I would recommend bringing your own cleaning products if you’re a bit of a neat freak like me, as everything gets very dusty very quickly for some reason. I thought my room was a bit cold for the first week or two until I realised that my radiator wasn’t actually turned on…

My flat consists of 15 students and so we get a slightly larger kitchen to share. There’s not a lot of space in the kitchen but we get one cupboard, one fridge shelf and one freezer shelf each which just about fits my things in. There’s also an extra shelving rack that you can put a box of all your utensils on. There are two sinks, two hobs, an oven, a grill, two microwaves, a toaster and a kettle. We also have a TV, an ironing board and an iron. There is also a table and plenty of chairs to use, although it can be a bit of a squeeze at dinner time.

Communal space in our kitchen

Communal space in our kitchen

We’re on the east side of campus, pretty much as far east as you can get. Marlborough, Solsbury and Quads are our neighbours. The Parade is about a 5 minute walk, and the management building at the farthest end of the Parade (which runs through the centre of campus) is only about a ten minute walk away so everything is still pretty close. The bus stops and STV are both within 5 minutes walking distance. We have a launderette and post room in our building, and the parcel office is 5-10 minutes away.

Walking home to Woodland Court

Walking home to Woodland Court

We had a few issues with kitchen appliances breaking in our first couple of weeks, however these were sorted very quickly by our Woodland Court housekeeping team who are really helpful if you have any accommodation issues at all.

Cost-wise Woodland Court is one of the pricier options at £158 per week (2016/17 cost). I wanted an en-suite and a double room and I saved a lot of money in my gap year so I felt I was justified to spend a little more. The next alternative is the Quads which is new but rooms are smaller and you must get compulsory catering credit. Personally, I didn’t go for this option as I like cooking for myself, but it’s totally up to personal preference.

The most crucial thing about applying for accommodation is to apply the minute applications are open if you want to have the best possible change of getting your first choice. Woodland Court tends to be one of the most popular options so get in early to hopefully avoid disappointment!

 

Moving in and Fresher's Week: My advice

  

📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

Even if you think that you know exactly what to expect when you arrive at university, no matter how ready and prepared you may feel, you don’t.

Finally here in Bath!

Finally here in Bath!

Having deferred my place to take a gap year, in theory I had a long time to prepare, organise and pack. Yet, no number of checklists, labelling, student forums, Facebook group chats, or fretting family members left me ready for what was to come.

I was fortunate to secure my first choice of accommodation- Woodland Court- and I was very smug about the promise of a larger room, an en-suite and a double bed. However, to my dismay, a second-year student posted very depressing looking photos of a standard Woodland Court room on an accommodation Facebook page that looked NOTHING like the photos I’d seen on the accommodation website. For a girl whose bedroom is her peaceful haven, I freaked out.

Despite this minor worry I set off on the Saturday with my very helpful parents, car loaded with a considerably open mind. Upon arrival and collection of my library card (which doubles as your room key), we loaded up an industrial trolley full of boxes and went in search of my new home. My room is at the end of a corridor of 15 bedrooms and one large kitchen, on the ground floor (thank you accommodation office!). As it turned out my room was lovely. I quickly set about unpacking, arranging and organising as I love to do and after an hour or so my new room looked wonderful if I do say so myself. Based on my experience I would advise you to set your expectations halfway between university photos and student photos. The university photos of Woodland Court show a large room which nine times out of ten you will not get! Nevertheless, my room was nowhere near as dreary and dull as the photos I had seen posted by a second-year student. DO NOT WORRY about your room. You can make anywhere your own. I’ve been to rooms in the Quads and Marlborough Court and every student makes their room unique and liveable. Although Woodland is one of the more expensive accommodation options, and so I worked hard almost the entire year saving money so I felt I could indulge myself a little, in truth Quads, Marlborough & Solsbury are not massively different.

Exploring campus with my mum

Exploring campus with my mum

When it came to the daunting process of meeting my flatmates, a lot of the pressure had already been relived. Most of us somehow found each other on Facebook and set up a group chat to 'pre-meet' as many of the people as possible who we were about to spend the next 10 months with. In my flat there are three second year students who are really helpful in terms of navigation around campus and general university advice. All 15 of us get on really well which is very fortunate, and this seems to be the case for most people that I’ve met. When you’re all in the same position, it’s very easy to find common ground as a basis for friendship.

Now as far as Freshers' Week goes, I’m not big on partying and drinking because of health. I did not buy the package wristband however any event you go to you can pay on the door which worked out to be much more cost effective for me as I didn’t go out every single night. This first week is great for getting to know people in your flat and others as well, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to make an effort to socialise during this time! It was a lot of fun and I didn’t feel like the odd one out at all if I wasn’t drinking, as most people will not be up for drinking seven nights straight no matter the bold claims they may make on night one.

Freshers' Week: Jungle night...

Freshers' Week: Jungle night...

... and Toga night!

... and Toga night!

Another important aspect of Freshers' Week is course induction activities. GO TO ALL OF THEM. Although at the time a few may seem very long and dull and repetitive, you learn so much that will help you massively in the first few weeks of your course and inevitably throughout the whole year. As a student of the School of Management, we also had networking activities in this week, which again I found very beneficial. You may not necessarily meet your best friend during these activities but it’s definitely a comfort seeing a friendly face during the next few weeks. One thing that surprised me about the induction week activities was the enthusiasm from staff. Coming from a large, fairly low performing sixth-form college I was not used to this level of friendly and knowledgeable staff and it really made a difference to me in terms of my confidence and motivation for studying my course.

All in all, the whole moving in process has gone very smoothly for me despite some previous minor concerns. My top advice? DO NOT WORRY!

 

Ich bin ein Berliner

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📥  International student, School of Management, Undergraduate

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

  

📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

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, School of Management, Undergraduate

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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📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

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)

 

Business Plan Competition Trip - New York and Boston 2015

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📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

The University of Bath runs a Business Plan competition each year, which is run by Enterprise Bath in conjunction with Deloitte. This really is a brilliant initiative where we write up our ideas with the help of mentors and pitch our ideas to a select panel. The prize for winning is a trip to New York and Boston, where the winner has the opportunity to meet UoB Alumni to get their advice on their business plan. This year, I was the lucky one and set off to the United States full of enthusiasm, alongside University Enterprise Education Manager, Siobain, Richard from Rocketmakers and Molly from the Department of Development & Alumni Relations.

My business idea is a rewards card for the restaurant industry. I will be kicking it off alongside my studies at Bath and am planning to work on the venture full-time during my placement period, which begins in February. I am working with Rocketmakers, a local Bath firm, to develop the software needed to launch the mobile application and am hoping to launch in the near future.

Please feel free to get in contact if you would like to find out more about the business. If anyone would consider mentoring me, working with me, sponsoring my placement or investing in the business - please do get in touch. I cannot express enough how passionate I am about this business and making it a success, so any support would be greatly appreciated.

Day 1 – Sunday

My first full day in America began just as it should, with brunch! I’m afraid food may become a common theme during this blog, they just do it so much better out here. As it was the weekend, we had the whole day to explore the historic city and we definitely made the most of it.

First on the list was the MIT museum, which was full of the weird and wacky. There were a whole range of interesting exhibitions, from photographs of East Germany to gestural engineering sculptures. A personal favourite was their exhibition on artificial intelligence and how they make robots appear more human.

An exhibit at the MIT museum

An exhibit at the MIT museum

We then headed across the city to the Fanueil Hall market, which begins with the iconic old market but as we walked through to the new market we became overwhelmed by the smell of freshly cooked food (including the largest toffee apples I have ever seen!) and the hustle of the lunchtime rush. You got a real sense of the city, with stalls selling Boston Red Sox toys and toy lobsters. A real find was the replica pub from the TV series ‘Cheers’. I have to confess to having to Google the show afterwards, but it had a great atmosphere and was a perfect photo opportunity.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Coincidentally, the market was located on the freedom trail. This self guided tour involved following the red bricks across the city, which took us via their famous landmarks. It was an ideal excuse to wander around the city and soak up the atmosphere. We walked past the harbour, through the Italian district and discovered the iconic statue of Paul Revere.

The Paul Revere statue in Boston

The Paul Revere statue in Boston

Day 2 – Monday

We began Monday with what I like to consider my first American road trip, though in truth we only travelled an hour north of Boston. We fuelled up at the place which claims that “America runs on Dunkin’” and experienced Munchkins for the first time.

This was all in preparation for our first meeting with Nobel Prize winner and honorary graduate Sir Richard Roberts. I was unsure what to expect from a lab, imaging a very plain office. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Surrounded by acres of beautiful land were two spectacular offices. The first was modern, architecturally brilliant and filled with a gallery’s worth of art. In contrast, the second office was a former monastery which had been beautifully restored. Sir Richard gave me some fantastic advice, with a key takeaways being that it is okay to start small and grow, made me consider some key aspects of the business, to continuously innovate and to make sure that staff feel valued (they operate a profit sharing scheme and he joked that they probably had the best paid dishwashers in the world!).

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School

That afternoon we headed over to Harvard Business School to meet another Bath Graduate, Professor Alan MacCormack. Not only were the buildings themselves incredible, but Harvard’s approach to innovation was extremely impressive. They have adopted open plan classrooms with moveable whiteboards to enable group work and had built a creative workspace specifically for start-ups. It has definitely become a dream of mine to study there! Alan provided some extremely useful insight on my idea, including the challenges around double sided markets and the coefficient of viral spread.

Day 3 – Tuesday

Tuesday didn’t start off quite to plan. Our Uber driver got wildly lost and ended up getting pulled over by the police! However, the day took a turn for the better when we met Chris Hall, Bath graduate, serial entrepreneur and programming expert. His latest venture is a 3D photo business which places cameras 360 degrees around people to produce a 3D image, and he kindly let us try it out. In addition to having started up his own business, he is a keen restaurant-goer and these experiences helped us to come up with a fountain of new ideas. These included the use of data, techniques to aid cash flow and the importance of status for rewards cards.

That evening, we visited the famous Legal Sea Foods restaurant and I had my first ever taste of lobster. Following this we headed to an alumni reception and it was a great to hear everyone’s stories about their time at Bath. Coincidentally, some of my friends from first year were on academic exchange in Boston, which was a really pleasant surprise!

Day 4 – Wednesday

New York!

New York!

Bright and early on Wednesday we began our trip via train to New York. This was a fantastic opportunity to catch up on my blog and also to see the beautiful coastline on our journey down, which included Molly’s hometown.

Being slightly overwhelmed by the sheer size of everything in New York, we inadvisably decided to walk all the way to our hotel from the station. Incredible sights, but carrying an enormous suitcase across town in the midday heat probably wasn’t the best idea! No time to stop though as we were onto our next meeting, with Will Rhind from the World Gold Council. Will is a frequent user of rewards cards and we discuss his thoughts on what made the best rewards card.

That evening, we were in for a real treat as we headed to Citifield for a NY Mets baseball game. It’s not quite cricket, but there was a fantastic atmosphere. Let’s go Mets!

Watching a Mets game!

Watching a Mets game!

Day 5 – Thursday

Thursday began with a trip to Hell’s Kitchen, where we met Phil O’Brien who has founded a magazine there called ‘W42ST’. Phil has previously set up businesses in the UK, so it was insightful to hear the differences in operating in the US and the challenges he has faced. Should my idea take off, expanding abroad would definitely be an option, so it was extremely useful to get his thoughts on the American market.

We then headed over to Google to meet Emma Williams. I have heard the tales of incredible offices with free food and I wasn’t disappointed! Emma is a recent graduate and studied the same course as me (Business Administration), so it was really helpful to hear her experiences since leaving University.

After eating more food than was probably advisable, we set off for our final meeting of the day with another Bath graduate, Jo Thorogood. Jo was great fun and talked us through some useful ideation techniques. We then put this into practice by coming up with a host of name ideas for the rewards card. We wrote these ideas out on a flipchart and took it to the alumni reception that evening, where they all voted on which name they preferred.

Day 5 – Friday

Friday was the last day of meetings but we definitely finished on a high! First up was Paul Murphy, CEO of Dots and member of Betaworks. It was extremely useful to meet someone who has successfully launched and advertised a mobile application, as this is a key element of my idea. He was also able to look at the idea from an investor perspective and advised that we perform quick tests to back up some of the assumptions made in my plan. We also discussed how to effectively target our online adverts to increase the return on investment.

For our final meeting we met Anne MacDonald, former CMO of Macy’s and Citigroup. Anne was able to advise me as a highly experienced marketing expert but also as a long-term rewards member. We discussed how to drive action from members, grandfathering as a concept, expiring points after a certain period to remove long-standing liabilities from the balance sheet and potential partnerships with credit cards. It was a pleasure talking to Anne and it was the perfect end to a fantastic week of meetings.

Day 6&7 – The weekend

I managed to stay on in New York for a couple of extra days with a friend who studies at Fordham University. This was a fantastic experience to understand what it was really like to live in New York and also gave me further opportunity to explore the city. After a week of far too much food, I decided to combine sightseeing with some much needed fitness, and went on a jog through New York. I managed to tick most of them off my list: Central Park, Times Square, Ground Zero and The Empire State. By the end of the trip, I had some serious neck pain for staring up at the buildings for so long!

The Freedom Tower, New York

The Freedom Tower, New York

On the final day, I was invited to Fordham’s homecoming. Experiencing what it was like to be a student in America and watching the football (not soccer) match was great fun. I was tempted to miss the flight and buy a flat in New York, but this whole experience has whetted my entrepreneurial appetite that I couldn’t wait to get back and start the business.

Many thanks

This was undoubtedly one of the best weeks of my life. It was an incredible opportunity to meet a number of experienced alumni and my business plan has come on leaps and bounds. It has given me the confidence to push my idea forward and I hope to be launching within a couple of months of my arrival back in the UK.

This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations from Bath Alumni and I am extremely grateful. Opportunities such as this trip are having a large impact within the University and really help to grow entrepreneurship, I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to all the alumni who took the time out to meet with me during the week. The idea evolved so much during the week and your advice has helped to dramatically improve the business. Please do keep in touch and thank you again.

I would also like to thank everyone involved in the Bath Business Plan competition. Siobain and Aiste, from Enterprise Bath, did an excellent job organising the events. Thank you also to Deloitte, who kindly invited all applicants to their London office and helped us to develop our presentation skills. This was in addition to judging the competition and hosting the final event. Also thank you to Matt Parfitt who mentored me during the competition, and to all the other mentors who kindly donated their time.

The Alumni Office organises the trip and special thanks must go to Molly for all her hard work. It was probably the best week of my life and wouldn’t have happened without you.

Richard, who works for Rocketmakers in Bath, was a fantastic addition to the trip. He organised two of the meetings and his experience was invaluable in helping to get the most out of the meetings. Thank you for coming on the trip and for all the valuable input you gave.

It was an absolute pleasure spending the week Siobain. She is extremely passionate about driving enterprise at the University and does some fantastic work. Thank you for organising the competition and for your help with the trip.

Read more of our Student Blogs here

 

How to run a society

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📥  International student, School of Management, Undergraduate

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, School of Management, Undergraduate

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, School of Management, Undergraduate

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!