Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Reflecting On The Past Six Weeks

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📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

After slowly collecting up my belongings, five weeks ago, I moved to Bath. My first day involved a lot of queues and documents. When I’d finished trying to get my parents out of my hair, having a stress about the cleanliness of the fridge, and hanging up my clothes, I suddenly found myself sat on a bed in a little room on the eighth floor of an accommodation block in a city that I’d only ever spent a few hours in. That first day is rather scary, but trust me, there’s no need to be scared. Find your doorstop from the bottom of your suitcase, get your door propped open, and say hello to each and every person that walks past. At some point, your brain will have the revelation that actually, all of your flat mates are in the same position. It won’t be long before you’re all crowded around the kitchen table having the obligatory Fresher’s conversation.

‘What’s your name?’ ‘Alex’

‘What are you studying?’ ‘Pharmacology’

‘Where are you from?’ ‘Leicestershire’

‘Where’s that?’ ‘The Midlands’

‘But the Midlands doesn’t exist?’

Yes, if like me, you are from the Midlands, you’re about to spend the next four years of your life advocating its existence. Apparently, there’s only North and South.

Unpacking and preparing

Unpacking and preparing

Fresher’s Week passed in rather a whirlwind, and it wasn’t long before the reality of university life kicked in. Vitamins, tissues, olbas oil, and paracetamol will get you through the first couple of weeks as you attempt to overcome Fresher’s flu. When you’re recovering from a severe head cold, it can be difficult to take on the reams of new information. My first lecture largely consisted of a nervous five minutes trying desperately to spot a recognisable face in the biggest room I’d ever seen, an excessive amount of coughing (try putting 200 people all with some sort of virus into the same room!), and a fair amount of desperately trying to scribble down every word the lecturer said. Don’t do it, you’ll never get down every word. I’m warning you now, just don’t try. PowerPoint slides are there for a reason, so print them.

For Pharmacologists at least, there will be a moment a few days later when you discover that the lecturer’s for one module won’t use a PowerPoint. Yes, you heard it. Not one PowerPoint for a whole lecture series. But how can you teach without one? You’ll soon realise that schools have forgotten the art of using a marker and a whiteboard, and actually, whoever invented PowerPoint and projectors was probably just trying to confuse you. University may be very different to school on all sorts of levels, but actually, my Chemistry lectures make the most sense, and they’re the ones which I enjoy the most.

Teaching at university is rather different to how you are taught at school. At home, we still have middle schools, and so from moving to upper school in year ten to finishing my A Levels, I was in one place. I knew the teachers, I had my friends, and I knew how things were taught and what was expected of me. I knew that classes started at 8.45am and finished at 3.15pm. Sometimes, I can now feel a little like I’m drowning in the workload, because this time, the jump really is huge. There’s no more chatting to your friends, or answering problem sheets in class. Although we do have smaller ‘class-sized’ groups to answer questions, I spend most of my time sat in front of a lecturer with about two hundred other students. Putting your hand up is suddenly a massive ask, and you can find that there’s little structure. With a timetable that changes on a weekly basis, some days I can have my first lecture at 8.15am and finish my last at 7.15pm, but others I can lounge around until midday, have one lecture, and then head back to my flat. This semester, my hours vary from 11 to 23 hours a week, and for each hour we spend in lectures or workshops, we have to do one to two hours outside. That can mean fifty hour weeks, and will probably explain why the library is open twenty four hours a day.

My flat mates and I on the first night at Uni

My flat mates and I on the first night at Uni

It wasn’t long before I was fully immersed into a world of lectures, workshops, societies, friends, socialising, reading, essay writing, and sleeping. I’ve found that friendship groups have popped up all over the place, and so there’s always someone to hang around with. Some of the best bits for me have been the simple things; we had a flat roast dinner and I went to the Pharmacology pub quiz. Although there are plenty of opportunities to party if that’s your thing, you don’t have to go out every night. A group of six of us from my course decided to go the pub quiz social, and while we only came third, and were the only first years there, it was a good chance to see Molloys, and get to know each other a little better. There’s only so much that you can get to know about someone whilst simultaneously trying to make notes in a fifty minute lecture. Take time to appreciate the little things (and to try and work out which of your new friend’s is called Ellie, which is Ella and which is Emma).

Looking back on it, I’m not sure where the last five weeks have gone. I’ve joined three societies, made a whole host of friends, visited my mum for her birthday, and eaten exactly what I wanted. Every single day. Being a student is a lot of fun, and I’m already convinced that the stress of A Levels and the hassle of UCAS was worth every single second.


Moving In and Making Friends

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Hannah

Moving to university can be a pretty big deal. It is stressful and complicated and emotional. On my moving day I had a lot of complaints from my family members about the amount of stuff I was taking, and the subsequent lack of room in the car. I was told that there wouldn’t be enough storage space, I wouldn’t wear all those clothes etcetera etcetera. This was all lies. Take as much as you like. If you’ve still got room in the car cram some more stuff in. The rooms at Bath, or more specifically the Eastwood Accommodation (as I can only speak from personal experience) have plenty of room. I have a wardrobe and three separate cupboard spaces. And if you don’t have enough space Mum and Dad can just take it back with them.

As I was moving from London to Bath the drive was fairly short and straightforward but we took our time. We stopped off for a walk and lunch and I’m really glad we did. It’s the last time you’ll see your family for a little while and you should make the most of it. Especially as you’ll want them to leave the minute you’ve unpacked the car (sorry mum). It can feel a bit lonely and scary just after they’ve left and for me the best thing to do was to throw myself into unpacking and meeting my new housemates. I think it said it on every advice page I read about moving to university but make sure you bring a door stop with you. You’ll want to keep your door open a lot (first week especially) as it makes it a lot easier for your housemates to come and have a chat with you. And when you move in go and knock on people’s doors, introduce yourself. Everyone is looking to make friends and will appreciate you coming to say hi.

Don't forget a doorstop!

Don't forget a doorstop!

After I’d unpacked all my clothes and got my room looking a bit more homely I decided to put away all my kitchen stuff. But I ran into a bit of a problem. I’d decided to come on the Sunday of moving in weekend. The accommodation office advised this as there would be less traffic and so it would be easier to get to the university. And this was true. I think around 70%-80% of people moved in on the Saturday which meant the Sunday was quiet and it was easy to collect my keys and room information. However I got no kitchen cupboard space. Literally none. And however friendly your new housemates are no one is nice about kitchen cupboards. So I lived fresher’s week with all my stuff in a plastic box on top of the fridge. Not the most practical solution but it worked. However, three weeks in, I have two cupboards and a drawer so just give it a bit of time if something doesn’t go quite right for you in Fresher’s Week.

Making new friends is a really big part of your time at university. It is also hard. After my gap year working in France, I assumed making friends at university would be easy. If I’ve already spent a year making friends in a foreign language how hard can it be to do in English? But it is always difficult, wherever you are and however old you are. Driving to Bath I almost felt like being sick I was so nervous. I knew the majority of my housemates had arrived the day before. What if they were all already best friends? What if I didn’t like any of them? What if none of them liked me? The whole concept of first year university accommodation a bit strange. You are essentially moving into a house with a whole group of people you’ve never met and might potentially have nothing in common with. The university doesn’t send out questionnaires to match you with people with similar interests to you. These people are total strangers. But I was lucky. In my house of 13 I get on very well with all my housemates and some are starting to become close friends. I’ll probably end up living with some of them next year. And three weeks in I’ve realised that randomly putting you in with a group of strangers gives you the opportunity to make friends with people you might never have spoken to or met anywhere else. If they weren’t my housemates I can’t imagine that I would have ever met some of them as we all do different course. Or if I did meet them we might not be such good friends. And he majority of people I’ve talked to, either from Eastwood, Westwood, Marlborough or any other university accommodation, get on really well with their housemates. Most people are really enjoying the chance to meet new and step outside of their comfort zone a little bit.

But of course sometimes you just really don’t get on with the people you live with or you just don’t have much in common with them. If this is you, don’t panic! The university gives you a million other opportunities to make friends. Firstly, though it may seem obvious, there are the people on your course. Given you’ve both chosen to study the same thing at university you’ll probably have something in common. These people will be the ones you spend a lot of time with, they’ll help you out if you have a problem and they’ll be the people you study with. As I’m doing French and Spanish I got together with a couple of people from my course to watch a French film. I don’t know them that well but hopefully I will soon.

Then there are the clubs and societies. There are so so many of these at Bath. Whatever you’re interested in; juggling, baking, knitting, there will be a society for you to join. Bath is also very sporty so your first year is a good time to start a new sport or maybe go back to one you used to do. They’re also a really good way to meet people who enjoy doing the same kind of things that you do. All the clubs and societies have regular socials, some are weekly, others monthly, and often trips away as well giving you loads of opportunities to get to know some new people and consolidate those friendships that you’ve already made. So go along to the Fresher’s Fair and sign up. And I will share a little wisdom from a UniSmart Fresher’s Week talk with you, “when making friends it’s more important to be interested than interesting”.


"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.



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!


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.


📥  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.


Busy life!

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

Two weeks in and I can say with certainty that life at the University of Bath has started with a bang. I thought I had a packed schedule back home but I now realise that I have to brace myself for the busiest time of my life! In Fresher's Week alone I did so much - moving in now seems almost insignificant. I attended induction talks, went to numerous events, joined clubs, watched sport, played sport, went to the gym almost every day and even managed a surf trip to Woolacombe on the Sunday to round things off. Naturally I partied too and I am sure that nobody in my flat wanted the week to end - it was brilliant. It gave me a chance to bond with my flatmates and forge lots of new friendships - the 2nd year Fresher's Crew were great and are still up for drinks with us a fortnight on.

Fresher's Fairs throughout the week made signing up for rowing and surfing really easy for me. Everybody was very friendly and before you know it, you're on one too many sports mailing lists. My email inbox was bombarded with offers that I simply could not turn down and, as mentioned already, within days I was off to North Devon with the surf team for a day at the beach under the sun - there was no better way to cap off the week. Despite the laissez faire attitude of the straggly haired surfers the day ran without a hitch and the chilled out atmosphere meant that everyone returned home with smiles on their faces - that is, if they weren't sound asleep on the coach like me!

I've also joined the Novice Men's Rowing Team with BUBC (just a tad more serious than the surf team!) and so far I'm really enjoying it. We've only just been given our training schedule and although at first daunting, the social side of training with the other novices makes it all worthwhile - I just hoped I'd be able to find the boathouse in the city! Having successfully done so, I spent this Saturday afternoon on the water and despite not being the most beautiful boathouse in the world, the Minerva Boathouse has the same fantastic, Bath atmosphere as on campus and this makes it a very exciting place to be. Last weekend a sunny afternoon at the beach and this weekend a sunny afternoon on the river - life at University isn't that bad at all....

The gym facilities at Bath are extraordinary. Every morning during Fresher's Week I miraculously managed to stumble to the gym to work off some of the excesses of the night before. There is no better gym in the world to do this - surrounded by international athletes and hung-over friends I thought it rude not to get as sweaty as possible and keep the fitness levels up before yet more partying in the evening. However, no amount of gym could keep the Fresher's flu at bay. Be warned, it's not a myth, Fresher's flu does exist! Before I knew it I was in a 9.15 lecture on Monday morning on Solid Mechanics, everyone bleary eyed and the packed lecture hall a cacophony of coughs and splutters!

Having purchased all of the available remedies from the shops on campus, the flat slowly began to recover and many of us started the routines of university life in earnest. The flat is always alive with people dashing in and out; to and from lectures, training sessions, the gym, socials, eating and drinking. Before you know it another busy day has passed you by and you haven't even started your problem sheets....

Friday night comes round and everybody is heading to Happy Hour in the Plug - at first I was anxious that everybody would split up into small social groups and that after Fresher’s I'd be left with no one to drink with, but I needn't have been so worried. By just the second week it is almost impossible to walk from one side of the bar to the other without bumping into someone I have met before, and even when this does not happen, people are often far too keen to get to know you anyway. By the end of the month I feel I will know everyone on campus!

Campus really is the land of the busy - if you're not arranging an event or buying tickets for a night out on campus then you're at an event. Looks like the coming months are going to be packed; I've just got time to crack on with some of the problem sheets from last week before tomorrow morning's lectures. There really 'ain't no rest for the wicked'; I'll keep you posted!

Preparing for Uni as an Access student

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Millie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Receiving my A-level results and Preparing for University


📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

The weeks leading up to August 14th were the most nerve-wracking of my life. It doesn’t seem to matter how much you prepare for your exams, or how well you understand the systems of clearing and adjustment, thinking about results day will still result in an overwhelming feeling of nausea. And trust me, you will think about it. No matter how many times you ban it from conversation or distract yourself, every single person you’ve ever met (and probably the distant family members that you haven’t!) will ask you how you thought your exams went and where you’re planning to go. If you’re lucky and manage to avoid these conversations, the creeping sense of doubt will still make its way into your mind. When you’re trying to sleep, you’ll suddenly feel like you’re drowning in your own panic.

I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to University. I didn’t prepare anything, I checked clearing places, and thought about back-up plans. I stand by my decision, because if there is even the smallest bit of doubt in your mind that you might not make it, it’s better to expect the worst. Hopefully then, if your dreams are crushed, the blow might feel just that tiny bit more bearable.

Don’t panic when you wake up on the Thursday morning and find that your heart is already jumping up into your throat - it’s a normal reaction! Once I’d come to terms with my mini heart-attack, I drove to school in silence, and opened UCAS Track in the car park. Relief washed over me, my status had changed to ‘unconditional firm’. At this point, with twenty minutes until the school opened, I found my friends and shared the excitement. I was very lucky in that each and every one of my friends made it into their firm or insurance choices, and so there was plenty of excitement and laughter to go around!

Holding your results envelope can often mean a feeling of power. Finally you’ve got what you’ve been waiting to see for six weeks, and you know that you can look at it whenever you want to. Suddenly, you don’t want to be holding that envelope anymore. At least, you don’t want to be holding it while stood in the middle of a room of teachers. Those teachers, in my case, had been telling me for months that I couldn’t achieve, that I couldn’t get the grades I so badly wanted and needed. Of course, tearing it open proved them all wrong. I had surpassed everyone’s expectations, and every emotion that had been whizzing through my brain in my A Level years was suddenly released.

Heading home (after a night of celebration of course!) meant preparation. There has been a lot of things to get ready. My top tip for getting ready is to write lists, and lots of them! Watching my friends has taught me that preparation usually goes one of two ways. There are organisational freaks like me, who print documents, write lists, make advance plans, and pack slowly to ensure that nothing is forgotten. On the other hand, there are people like my best friend who do everything the night before, leave their iPod lying around and nearly take someone else’s ID to Scotland with them.

I’ve had to buy food supplies, cooking equipment, cleaning products, toiletries, a fresher’s wristband, fancy dress, books, bedding and stationary. There have also been clothes to pack, accommodation to accept, agreements to sign, preparation work from my department, bank accounts, vaccines, and goodbyes to say. See why I recommend the lists yet? I learnt that it’s important not to do anything on a whim, and consider each and every option carefully before committing.

You are about to spend the next three of four years penniless, and working as much as I can has meant that I’ve got some savings for Fresher’s, which I think is a very sensible idea. Getting your parents to buy you some basic food and toiletry supplies can also help to make the first few months easier whilst you get used to budgeting.

Of all the things that I’ve had to do, saying goodbye has been the hardest. Although I am yet to say goodbye to most of my friendship group, my best friend left last Friday. It’s when you start saying goodbye that everything begins to feel very nerve-wracking again. After a month of excitement, the reality hits that you and your friends will be moving away from home to opposite ends of the country, and in some cases, the world. After eighteen years of the security of my family, my school, and my community, I’ve suddenly got to face the world on my own. Whilst I like to think I’m independent and will cope just fine, as the eldest child, I don’t really know what to expect. Not only do I have the obvious goodbyes to say, I’m also leaving my local Guiding units, and stopping my flute lessons. Hobbies which have been my sense of stability since a young child are being taken away, or moved with me.

It’s all new, it’s all learning, and I’m sure it will all be awesome. It’s important to remember that when I move, everyone will be in the same position. Everybody in first year is nervous, and desperate to make friends. We’re all going to have a fabulous time!


Receiving my Matura and preparing for University


📥  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?