Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Topic: School of Management

Life in the fast lane...

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📥  Harry, School of Management

It still amazes me how much you have the chance to get involved with at Bath. I am constantly wishing that I just had a bit more time in order to cram in another society or sport but I am barely being able to keep up with the ones I’m already signed up for. Today I’m going to share with you an awesome experience I’ve been lucky enough to be apart of for the last few months: Team Bath Racing.

Team Bath

Ready to go!

If you’re going to study Mechanical Engineering at Bath then the chances are you will have heard of Formula Student. Or if you haven’t, you definitely will by the time you arrive at Bath. Team Bath Racing is the top Formula Student team in the UK. For those of you not in the MechEng sphere Formula Student is a competition where students design, build and run a single seater formula race car from scratch. It’s high tech stuff (and as a business student it’s completely over my head) but anyone with a love of motorsport, business or mechanical engineering has the capacity to help out in some way.

Over the last month I’ve actually been lucky enough to take part in a few tests trialling out to be a driver for the team. The day starts with the team checking over the car to make sure it’s both safe and set up for optimum performance before loading it up into the truck to transport to Colerne, which is a local airfield where the team tests the car (about 10 minutes from the university). Once we arrive we set up the course on a stretch of unused taxi way using cones to create a twisty test track designed to challenge the car and driver. After this we do a track walk (it always helps to know where you’re going) before getting kitted up, helmets on and belted into the car.

Our awesome car

Our awesome car

At the first test we actually had to do an ejection test (no there isn’t an ejection seat unfortunately) but you did have to be able to get out of the car in under 5 seconds in case of fire. Unfortunately on my first attempt I only managed 6 seconds meaning I died in a petrol fuelled inferno, but the second practice I managed 4 seconds thank goodness. There were 3 drivers testing out on the day, myself, Max (Super Fast German) and Mark (who races at MSA level) so competition was very high! It was a great experience to be able to drive the car though, which was actually very nippy for it’s size and a great challenge as getting used to driving the (as Top Gear would describe it) flappy paddle gearbox was particularly tricky!

It’s an awesome piece of machinery - carbon fibre monocoque, full data system - the lot! The scale of the project is just crazy for a student initiative.  But I think it’s an absolutely brilliant example of why you might want to consider studying at Bath - not only is it a world class university it also offers you the opportunity to get involved in what it is you love doing. No matter what it is, you can almost be sure there will be a group of equally enthusiastic people who want to get involved in the same area, and with a fantastic Students Union behind you, the sky is the limit (there is actually a gliding club so it really is). And if the sport, club, society that you want to be a part of isn’t already here then you can create it yourself!

So how do you get involved in all these crazy activities you ask? Well, during freshers week there are sports and societies fairs happening all week which is a great chance to go round and talk to all the different clubs and find out what they’re about. Once you find a few you like, sign up and attend a taster session! After that if you still think it’s something you’d like to get involved in you just need to buy your membership fee (it’s really not much for what you get don’t worry!) and away you go!

I hope this post helps, and maybe I’ll see you at the race track next year!

Harry

 

Don't Panic: 3 Uni study tips

  

📥  Harry, School of Management

One thing is for sure about your first semester at University, it will go incredibly fast! It feels like literally just yesterday my parents were waving goodbye and I was embarking on Freshers Week. With just 3 weeks of term left the last few weeks have been pretty hectic as the first wave of scary assignments are due and the dreaded in-class tests started appearing.

I am of course, over-exaggerating.  Your first assignments are in actual fact not that scary and the in-class tests really aren’t as difficult and horrible as they might sound. However, when you do them for the first time they can seem like they’re a bit daunting. I know I’ve definitely been panicking a bit the last few weeks so I’d like to share with you a few top tips so that when you arrive at university you won’t need to worry at all!

As a Business Administration student, the first semester is largely about introductory modules in the various areas of business. This is designed to get everyone up to the same level before progressing onto the more advanced topics. Obviously some students have studied some of the module topics before (for instance I’ve already studied 2 years of economics, where as others have no economics experience but are absolutely amazing at Accounting - which I am definitely not!). Which is where my first top tip comes in: Study Groups!

When it comes to learning everyone is different, but I certainly find it much easier to get to grips with that pesky statement of financial position when I’m learning in a group of friends. It’s a great way to exchange knowledge, get motivated to study and mutually benefit everyone.

Study groups are great

Study groups are great!

Second up is Office Hours, what on earth are they you ask? Well, each lecturer at the university will have set office hours advertised. This is usually a few hours a week where you can simply drop by their office and question them on that tricky problem you’ve got stuck on. My real tip though is to utilise this time - I spent far to long sitting around not being able to work out problems because I didn’t want to bother my lecturer with my silly problems. It’s really important to remember that’s exactly what they’re there for - so no matter how small your problem, as long as you’ve spent time considering and working on it then just pop along and get it sorted before it comes to exam time! If you really don’t want to head along to their offices, try grabbing them at the end of a lecture or during the break.

Office Hours

 

Third and final is Time. Keep track of it and don’t leave it to the last minute (although we all inevitably will right?). I know I got caught out by the fact that 3 deadlines all fell within 1 week, and didn’t allocate enough time in order to get them all done. Which involved a lot of Red Bull and not much sleep. I’ve certainly learnt for next time!

So there you have it, 3 top tips on not panicking about assignments and in-class tests. Get in groups, utilise office hours, and keep track of time!

Until next time!

Harry.

 

Decision making

  

📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

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

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

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

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

So why did I apply to Bath in the end?

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

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

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

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

The stunning lake

The stunning lake

Who wouldn't want to study here?

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

"Surviving" Halls

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📥  Harry, School of Management

Living in halls has to be one of the most talked about subjects when it comes to university and that's because everyone's experience will be different. Not only from university to university but also differences between the different halls available. At Bath that means you could be in a number of different blocks, on or off campus - all have their benefits and disadvantages.

I'm in the perhaps unusual situation of sharing a flat with only two others in a small house of only 36 students (Osborne House in case you want to search it up on the uni's accommodation site). Some of my friends are sharing flats with 20 people with hundreds of students in the same building (Quads) Where you will stay will come down to 2 things: where you would like to stay / what preferences you have and also how early you apply! It's first come first serve so make sure to get your application in very early to ensure you get your first choice accommodation.

The fun bit:

So what's it's actually like to live in halls you ask? Totally awesome I say... If this is your first time living away from home, or even if it's not, then you're going to love it. It's a lot of fun to be living with friends and always having some around to do anything from just having a cuppa and a chat with to going on nights out with. You'll find someone who shares your interests - no matter how obscure. So, just to give you a snapshot I'll highlight two things me and my flatmates have been up to this week!

1. The Walking Dead... For those of you not familiar with this relaxing TV show, it's a dramatic horror series set in a post apocalyptic world where the dead have come back to life leaving a few pathetic humans to wonder round trying not to get eaten. So this week we've been watching an episode every day (we're not addicted, honest) but with one small twist... We've all assigned each other a minor character (you'll soon understand why a major character would be cheating) based on our personalities in real life. The aim of course, to see who can survive through the series the longest! I'm pleased to report (at time of writing) as of episode 5; series 1 I am still going strong, unfortunately so are the others but I will report any updates in future blog posts!

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

2. Pancakessss. Who doesn't love pancakes right? Everyone loves pancakes so we've made it a flat tradition (of which you will make many- both wonderful and bizarre!) to make pancakes every weekend when we're all in the flat. This is a great way to get everyone together and to chill out at the weekend so make sure to brush up your culinary skills before you come (I hear cake goes down equally well!) So yes, as you can see from the image we were very proud of our efforts.

Pancakes!

Pancakes!

So these are just a few of the many things you can get up to in halls... I hope to be sharing some more halls activities amongst many other university related things very soon!

Until then!
Harry.

 

Getting a job at Uni

  

📥  Matt, School of Management

A lot of students will be searching for part time work at university – it helps you gain experience of the workplace and also gives you a little bit of extra cash each week.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is if you have time for a job and how many hours per week are you willing to commit to part time work. I have 16 hours of contact time per week on my French and International Management course which means that I should be devoting at least 20 hours of personal study time to my subject. Round it up and that’s 40 hours of my week written off for uni work – remember that 40 hours is the average working hours for a full time job. A lot of other courses, especially sciences, have an even higher time requirement so many of these students generally don’t have time for a part time job. If your course is heavy, is it worth an extra £100 a week to sabotage your degree and reduce your overall earning potential when you graduate? No, you’re just going to waste £9000 per year.

If you’re unsure about how much work you’ll need to do, do what I did and get a second year’s number and ask them all about the course.

However, if you think you can spare the time for a part time job, get on it before you even get to Bath. If you already work for a brand, find out if they have a branch in Bath – that’s what I did and now I’m working as a part time supervisor in Garfunkel’s where I get paid to stand around for 20 hours a week and drink coffee. Internal transfers are really convenient because you generally won’t require any additional training so you can just step into a job in Bath without too much hassle.

If you can’t transfer, don’t worry! The best way to secure work is to find out which stores are hiring. Send an email to the branch you’re interested in, attach your CV and briefly explain your situation. Look on their website and apply through their official application process. Bath has every store you could think of so it’s really easy to search for a job whether it’s in a chain restaurant or in a retail store.

However, do not agree to an unreasonable amount of hours, just so you can secure a job. If you agree to work 30 hours a week and then realise that you can only do 10, you will be in breach of contract with your employer and they will be within their rights to dismiss you if they wish. Make it clear to your employer how much you are prepared to do and be ready to negotiate. Employers appreciate employees that are honest and to the point.

Set up a bank account

Many people don’t think about setting up a student account but it really is worth it. Some banks offer incentives such as a free 4 year rail card or perhaps an NUS card – these are things that you will use as a student and they will save you money in the long run. My account also gives me a £1500 interest free overdraft that I will hopefully never have to use but I have the security of knowing that it is there for me if I ever do need it.

 

Moving-in and Fresher's week

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

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

Are my flatmates nice?

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

Is my room big enough?

Photo of MIrella's room

My tiny tidy room

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

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

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

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

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

And probably the most important one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New city, new life, new frying pan.

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📥  Matt, School of Management

For most undergraduates, the pre-university thought process goes something like this:

“Will I need a frying pan? How many plates do I need to bring? Do I buy my stationery when I get there? Is it stationery or stationary? I don’t know how to spell stationery. Am I even smart enough to go to uni?”

These are all perfectly reasonable questions for someone who is trying to figure out how to prepare for a brand new chapter in their life but setting up your new life isn’t all about moving your possessions from A to B; it’s about starting a lot of things from scratch as well. You need to make brand new friends. If you want a job, you need to find one in a city you may know nothing about. Have you thought about the little details such as bank accounts or travel within the city? Here, I will show you a few things you can do before you get to Bath that can help you get ahead of the game which makes settling in that little bit less of a headache.

Making Friends (Or as adults call it, “Networking”)

On arrivals weekend, 3000 freshers will descend on the University of Bath. If you forget to bring a frying pan that means there are 2999 other people who could potentially lend you a frying pan. Your aim for university (and also for later in life) is to befriend as many people as you can so that when you need a frying pan (or a huge favour), you know someone who can help you out. This is called “networking” but up until now, you’ve known it as “making friends”. The only question is, how do you begin to network when you haven’t even moved into your flat yet? It’s simple.

Photo of the frying pan

The shared frying pan!

During the late springtime, you should start to search for Bath freshers groups on Facebook. These groups are generally quite quiet for the first few months until International Students receive their IB results in July. After this, they begin to become active until A level results day when even more people join and the whole thing becomes a nightmare when about 2700 undergrads all start contributing at 3 second intervals. My advice to you is to turn off Facebook notifications on your phone or your phone will vibrate every minute for the rest of your life.

Regardless, you will start to see a social community forming. You want to be part of this social community – whilst you may not be able to use it to form solid life-long friendships, you can make your first impression and create your own first impressions of others. Remember that it’s more important to be interested than interesting. I moved to Bath from Northern Ireland and I knew nobody but within 30 seconds of arriving on Campus, I saw a girl who I knew was in my flat and another that was on my course thanks to talking to them via Facebook. It wasn’t love at first sight but it was someone who I knew I could go up and start a conversation with, without coming across as a total creep.

One important word of advice. In your first few days at Bath, you will go to an induction assembly with every single other Fresher. The speaker on the stage will probably make a joke along the lines of, “and remember guys, your future husband or wife is most likely sitting somewhere in this room”. Don’t do what I did and turn to the girl beside you who you’ve never met and say, “So, will you marry me?” She was German and didn’t understand the sarcasm. Needless to say, the rest of the time in the hall was somewhat awkward.

Get ready for Freshers

Freshers week is apparently the best week of your life and it is packed with activities. Here are the key things that you need to do:

Buy your wristband

When you start searching for Facebook groups to begin your “networking”, you will find that there are probably 3 or 4 different freshers Groups. Some will be officially run by the University of Bath and some will be independent of the University. The independent groups will encourage you to buy wristbands throughout the summer. It is important to note that these wristbands have no affiliation with the University of Bath and they will not let you into any of the SU organised events. The University of Bath SU wristbands usually go on sale in early September and give to access to 6 nights of amazing acts. This year we had guests such as Zane Lowe and Greg James. It’s up to you which you buy but all I’m saying is that I bought the Official SU one and it was brilliant.

Fill in your medical form

If you visit the University of Bath website, you will be able to find a copy of a medical form which will allow you to register with the medical centre on campus. Get this done asap because no matter who you are or how healthy you think you are, you will catch freshers flu and it will be horrible and you will want to curl up in a ball for a fortnight. It’s now mid October and I’m only just starting to get better.

Review induction timetable

Whilst freshers is a wild week of partying, you will spend a lot of the day times in inductions for your course and for your halls groups. I think these induction classes are just meant to show you why you should never turn up to a lecture hungover but regardless, it’s good to have an idea of what you’ll be doing. Type “uni of bath induction timetable” into Google and navigate through the first couple of links to find the induction timetable for your course. So that’s it. Do these few things and lift a lot of stress and confusion off your shoulders during your first couple of weeks.

Now I need to go back to watching cheesy cartoon animations explaining microeconomics. À bientôt.

 

Receiving my Matura and preparing for University

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

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

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

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

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

Photo of Mirella at farewell meal

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

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

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

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

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