Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

How do I survive exams?

  

📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

With the festivity of Christmas and the fun of New Year out of the way, most university students around the country are about to be blasted back into the reality of university, work, assignments, and worst of all, EXAMS. Although A Levels don't have January exams any more, here at university, we most certainly do, and as I board the train back to Bath, it's all that's on my mind right now.

Now, I know that anyone who knows me that sees the title of this blog post will probably laugh uncontrollably. I never have coped well with exam stress, and I probably never will. I don't think that should stop me giving you advice though, should it? After all, often it can be those who aren't that great at something who give the best advice. For one, I've learnt a lot of ways to help myself during exams over the years, and I've also been given some great tips and advice.  So, here's my top ten survival tips for exams, both for university and for those all important A2's!

Stay focused and know what works for you

Stay focused and know what works for you

1. First, foremost, and hopefully most obviously, revise. Now is really not the time for procrastination. Make a revision timetable and start at least a month in advance (although if it were me, I'd be going for two or three months to be honest!). Balance it out, make sure that you cover everything at least twice, and find a method that works for you.

2. Ensure that you understand everything that you're taught as you go along. Of course, you probably won't know it all by heart the first time around, but if you come out of a lesson or lecture not understanding what has been said, and you don't do anything about it, you're still not going to understand it three months later when you come to revise. It just adds extra pressure, and it's a lot harder to ask questions if you leave it too long!

3. Know your timetable. For starters, knowing when your exams are is kind of vital for writing a revision timetable, and second, you look really stupid and panic rather massively if you suddenly realise at 11pm the night before your first exam that actually, it's a completely different paper from the one you thought it was tomorrow morning. Yes yes, you know who you are!

4. Make time for proper meals and make healthy snacks. Especially as a student, eating is something that's often rather neglected during the exam season. At home, your parents usually put at least one meal on the table for you so you're required to take time out to eat. At University, things are a little different. You have to not only leave your revision cave in order to eat; you have to spend time cooking it, too. That's time that you can often feel like you don't have, and so for some, it can be tempting to grab a pot noodle, and a pile of biscuits and chocolate. For others, it can be tempting not to eat at all. Now is the time to cook in bulk and freeze in portions, to make your own homemade ready meals. Pasta only takes ten minutes to cook, and if you're really desperate, you could even take your revision to the kitchen with you! Drink plenty of water, and make sure there's fruit, carrot sticks, and other less chocolatey snacks around.

5. Avoid people who stress you out. This one is simple, and it's one that I'm really awful at because I'm terrible at saying NO. If revising as a group doesn't work for you, then don't. If your parents nag you all the time, then ask them to give you space, or go to the library or a coffee shop to revise. Most importantly, if you don't want to talk to people just before or after an exam, then don't. Standing outside the exam hall just before you go in and having an argument about respiration (which is something I remember doing in my AS year) definitely isn't going to help anyone. Nor is coming out and realising that everyone you know wrote something completely different for question 6b, which was worth ten marks.

6. Get some sleep! The library may be open twenty four hours a day, and sometimes, that may be a blessing, but it doesn't mean that you should stay up till the dizzy heights of five am every night. Without sleep, I'm grumpy, I can't concentrate, and I don't remember anything. Sure, there's probably a million people out there who cope better with lack of sleep than I do, but trust me, sleeping is good for you.

7. Take a break. This is another one that I'm guilty of not doing. Revising for nine hours straight isn't good though. In theory, you should take a break about once an hour, even if it's just to go and get a drink and go to the toilet. In reality, most students don't do that unless they’re completely bored by their work (which the further you progress through education, the less it happens - that's the point of choosing your subject, right?). At least every couple of hours though, you should take time out. If you feel yourself getting tense, especially close to the exam, find something else to do for a while. Go for a short run, draw a picture, read a chapter of a book, call a friend, or in my case, get my flute out and play a piece or two. Yes, you do have to work hard in the exam season, but working all the time destroys your brain. Try not to feel guilty when you take time out. Do something you enjoy, distract yourself, have fun, and relax every now and again!

8. Give yourself something to look forward to when it's all over. It doesn't matter if it's a night out with friends, a visit home, or treating yourself to a new pair of shoes. Just do SOMETHING you enjoy, and plan it in advance. It'll keep you going when you feel like the piles of books are never ending.

9. Try your very hardest to think positively. This one is tricky. If you're struggling, it's all too easy to get yourself into a rut. Exams aren't the be all and end all of life, and everything works out somehow. Try to remember that, especially when you're sat in your first or most dreaded exam. If you're a bit rubbish at being positive, talk to someone who knows you well, and I'm sure they'll remind you just exactly why you're not the awful person that you may think you are at that moment.

10. Finally, remember to breathe. For those of us that freeze in times of stress, we can sometimes forget to breathe, or hyperventilate. Fainting in the exam would be embarrassing, so breathe properly. That one is important.

So, to anyone with exams in the next few weeks, good luck! They're not an easy thing for anyone, but if you persevere and work hard, they'll soon be over and you can go back to having all the fun in the world. Don't panic, and remember that whatever I just said, the odd night with red bull, chocolate, and carbonyl chemistry until 4am is okay, if that's what you need to do - just don't tell your parents, or else you'll set them panicking, too! Most importantly, look after yourself, okay?

 

In which I sang Silent Night to the Merry

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering

So the fundraising efforts continue as the days to the £2990 goal decrease rapidly and as a result weird ideas that once appeared too desperate are actually being considered.

My contact details are now on the notice board of every Eastwood residence advertising my services. Cleaning services that is - Eastwood being the only accommodation block without a cleaner. No takers yet surprisingly, though I did receive a nice email from one of my flatmates informing me of the blocked toilet on the top floor and asking me to politely sort it out. I refused for two reasons; one because no money would be going to charity for my efforts but probably most importantly because it was very disgusting. In the end, my flat mate armed with a big stick rescued us. Even though the evidence has been terminated and the culprit has yet to be caught, rumours of who did ‘it’ still linger.

There even was a flat vote to determine who was guilty when we did our ‘Christmas poll’/ ‘almost end of semester insult everyone’ vote. We created categories like ‘most likely to gamble away their life’, ‘worst dressed’ and ‘worst job prospects’ to add a bit of festive cheer to the flat.

I now proudly bear the title of best housemate. And who wouldn’t vote me when I organise sweet flat socials carol singing round the pubs in Bath? Surprisingly, some people refused to come with us on the pretence of ‘work’. It’s odd, I got the feeling they were embarrassed to be seen in public wearing a fabulous Children’s Society sash and some tinsel. But alas, a group of us set off to the pubs who kindly gave us consent to torment their customers with out of pitch versions of ‘Away in a manger’ and ‘Silent Night’.

The Cork was first being the closest; it’s prime location means it’s only a 2 minute walk from the bus station or 10 minutes’ walk from the bottom of Bathwick Hill for those – like me - who have promised themselves never to go on the bus. It is a pub renowned to students for pre-drinks before a night out or enjoying a nice meal and a pint when they don’t want to cook. Anyway, this place is usually full of students and we were going to sing to the crowd. The owner kindly offered us a free drink for courage and then we were up. It was awkward at first but we ploughed through several bad renditions of ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ whilst our flatmates kindly asked people for donations then we moved on.

The Cork

The Cork

The next pub was the Pig and the Fiddle which possibly has the best beer garden in Bath. Perfect in the summer months but not quite so great when you’re trying to project a tune whilst stood outside in December. Still, the patrons outside were kept warm by outdoor heaters and by dancing and singing along with us. Inside, it’s lovely and cosy and there’s a really friendly atmosphere -people who hadn’t even heard us sing were charitably giving us donations.

The Pig & Fiddle

The Pig & Fiddle

We proceeded to Adventure, a cute café during the day which gets transformed into a bustling bar come sun down. The owners were very generous, giving us a £20 donation to start us off then we began singing only to be joined by a group of very drunk – and very smartly dressed – men celebrating a 30th Birthday. It’s safe to say they detracted attention away from our bad singing and we sounded half decent in comparison.

We rounded our night off in The Bath Brew House where the smell of the warm mulled wine cider they were serving made us feel very festive for our last performance. So after we sang our chosen favourite carols and collected a few donations, we were happy to set off back up to the University after a brief look around the Christmas Market – beautiful in the dark.

£216.68 was raised from all the generous donations of the slightly merry pub dwellers that night, meaning I’m one step closer to climbing Kilimanjaro. Better start training then; New Year’s resolution to get fit I think.

 

Merry Christmas Everyone

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📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

So it’s official – I made it through freshers and all eleven weeks of lectures! Finally I was able to head home for the Christmas ‘holiday’ *cough, three weeks of revision* and I have the pleasure of saying that I’m writing this post from the comfort of my real home in the countryside of Leicestershire. Since I reflected on the first six weeks earlier in the semester, I thought that it was about time to tell you about the last few too.

When I think back to my first week of lectures, I have to fight the urge a little to not laugh at myself. I remember when orbital hybridisation in chemistry felt like a ten tonne weight on my shoulders, and the fear of contaminating my nutrient broth in microbiology labs was almost too much to deal with. Now those things come to me without even thinking, and whilst carbonyl chemistry, deadlines and the prospect of exams may still be hanging over me, I at least feel like I’m in control now. I get the regime, and I know what to do if I’m struggling. The fear that there would be nobody to care if you didn’t understand at university is all but gone, and although the support may be very different to that which I got in sixth form, it does exist at least.

The last week before the Christmas holidays seemed to pass in a flash. I was absolutely desperate to get home and to see my friends and family. I wanted to be able to revise without having to keep an eye on what time I needed to leave for lectures, but mostly, I couldn’t wait for my mum’s home cooked meals. By the time I got home, it had been a very long fourteen weeks since I’d seen one of my friends and twelve since I’d seen the others. Before I came to university, I didn’t expect to be so excited to see everyone again, but when you move as far away as I did, or even further, you find that you’re much more excited than those who have seen their loved ones regularly.

All the presents under the tree!

All the presents under the tree!

I mustn’t get ahead of myself though, because I’m sure that what you really want to hear about is what I got up to in my last week at university. With the concert over and so rehearsals stopped, you’d think it would have been rather boring. You couldn’t be further from the truth. I organised the food for our Floor Eight Christmas meal.

We pulled off Christmas dinner for eighteen.

We pulled off Christmas dinner for eighteen.

Each of the four flats cooked a few elements each, and then we headed down to the South flat to eat. I have absolutely no idea how we actually managed to coordinate a two course meal for eighteen, but we did, and it was amazing! We also had secret santa, and ‘pass the parcel the drinking game’ to keep us entertained for the evening.

All the good food!

All the good food!

Tuesday was the pharmacology Christmas social, which was a good opportunity to talk to students from other years about what to expect from exams, coursework, labs, and the lectures to come, as well as to gather some tips on how to get a placement. Sadly only four first years went, but we still had a lot of fun, and it’s important to socialise with your course friends outside of lectures, because that’s the only way that you’ll ever really get to know one another.

Wednesday was my last evening volunteering at Guides, where they had a Christmas party. Again, fun was had by all, but with the hope that I’ll be finding a Rainbow unit to help at in the new year, the goodbye was a little sad. In fact, as Christmas got closer, we all found that we didn’t really want to leave our flats, either. Saying goodbye to your flat mates can be just as hard as saying goodbye to your friends from home.

All the time, I was counting down the days until I got home using this very thoughtful present from my Secret Santa (thanks Sally – you’re awesome!).

Counting down to Christmas with my secret Santa gift.

Counting down to Christmas with my secret Santa gift.

On Saturday morning, I boarded the first train and spent the next three and a half hours rushing through various stations before reaching the warmth and comfort of my own home. Being me, getting home didn’t mean stopping either. On top of revision, I’ve already helped at the nativity, and a Rainbow, Beaver, and Cub event. Of course, I made the obligatory trip into school to say hi to various people (and chase my Gold DofE), and met with my friends (who got well and truly jumped on, I was so excited). I’ve still got meetings, and the fun of a family Christmas to look forward to, as well.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed my first term at university. Whilst I wanted to come home, it wasn’t because I’m not enjoying myself. I feel like I fit in, I’ve made friends, and concepts and ideas are beginning to click. I’m used to the daily routine, I love being able to cook and clean exactly when I want to, and I’m grasping all of the challenges with both hands, too. As the Christmas holiday passes, the dark cloud of exams is beginning to rain upon me, and I’m very, very worried. That’s okay, I tell myself. Who wouldn’t be? I’ve still got lots to look forward to afterwards though, including a visit from a friend at St Andrew’s University. We’re allowed to have guests stay for up to three nights, so I’m definitely going to be making the most of it.

Merry Christmas everyone, and I’ll see you on the other side of my first ever university exams. Good luck and I hope you’re getting lots of university offers by now!

 

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

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roman Baths... and Bath Uni's logo

Roman Baths... and Bath Uni's logo

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

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

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

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

 

Get Involved: Interests, Societies, and Being Yourself

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📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

There are a lot of changes to come to terms with when you first move away to university. The environment is usually very different to that which you have experienced at home, and your daily life is turned completely upside-down. I’ve told you before that making friends and fitting in are a lot easier than most people expect them to be. Everyone’s in the same boat, and there aren't any expectations to conform to, and I still stand by that statement as we approach the end of the first semester.

Something that people may not stop to consider however, is that when you move away, you also potentially leave behind many of the things that define you. It may be that you were part of the local football team, enjoyed baking, or drama. Perhaps like me you’re in the Guides or Scouts, and are a musician. Although I knew before I left home that these things were very important to me, and something that I wanted to continue to be involved in after moving to Bath, it can be something that many (especially those whose interests lie outside sport) do not stop to consider.

After attending the sports and societies fairs in Freshers' Week, I decided to join BUGS (Bath University Guides and Scouts), and I’m also volunteering at a Guide Unit on a weekly basis. It’s allowed me to find people who have a common interest, and bring with me one of those little pieces that I could have quite easily left behind. Although BUGS has provided many opportunities since I arrived here, and we had a fantastic Christmas get together on Friday night, the highlight of this weekend had to be the ChaOS Christmas Concert.

ChaOS is the Choral and Orchestral Society, and within that society I am a member of the Orchestra, Concert Band, and Flute Ensemble – if you haven’t guessed already, I’m a flautist. This weekend saw the annual Christmas Concerts, held in the very pretty (if not freezing cold) St Mary’s Church. I’d guess we’d better get the pun out of the way. It really was chaos. From loading the van at 8am, to arrival back on campus at 10.30pm, it was pretty much nonstop.

Beautiful venue for the concert

Beautiful venue for the concert

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about the day. Not only have I found some of the music difficult this term, I’m also awful with names. I didn’t feel like I knew anybody that well and that I’d feel a little lost and overwhelmed in the crowds. At least school concerts were familiar. I knew the drill, I knew the rules, and I just got on with what needed doing without being asked, whereas this time I’d be the newbie. As is usual with everything at university however, there was really no need to worry. The day ran smoothly, and although I’m really not lying when I say it was rather cold in that church, and my fingers did nothing to cooperate, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was able to see the other groups perform when I was not on stage, and found plenty of people to talk to whenever there was a spare moment. In between the concerts, I walked into town with a girl called Lucy to get some dinner. All it takes is a smile and to remember to say hi. That’s the one thing that makes friendships even easier within societies: you already have a common interest, and something that you can talk about, so the first hurdle has been taken away.

As I sat and watched the others perform, I felt again like I’d found another little niche. Although I did get a few throwbacks to school concert days, I didn’t feel out of place here at Bath. Aquapella, an auditioned acapella vocal group, was the highlight of my night, and I found that it was just as fun to see my friend from my course perform a solo as it would have been to see the same thing happen at home. There were smiles all round, and I woke up the next morning in an amazing mood, because I realised that music is something else that I could have easily forgotten, but I’d chosen to take part, and the result had been fantastic. I can’t wait for the next concert.

I guess what I’m trying to tell you is don’t be afraid to get involved. If there is something that you adore doing, or even something that you’ve never tried before but have always been intrigued by, make sure that you join up when you arrive at university. Perhaps even consider the societies and sports teams when making the decision about which university to put as your firm choice on UCAS track. Although people may tell you otherwise, university isn’t all about studying, flat mates, and alcohol. It’s important to take a break every now and again, be who you are, and do what you love to do, whatever that might be. Although the first few weeks are crazy, scary and exciting, don’t lose yourself in the whirlwind. You never know, you might just go on to find a friend peep out from the place that you least expect it.

 

Last week of term!

📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

Another quick update on the unfolding life of a first year undergraduate at the University of Bath - it's now the last week of term and it's nearly Christmas. Despite the fact that I've only been here for eleven weeks it feels like I know everyone really well and there is a real family feel on campus. As I said in my last blog, time has flown by and the last eleven weeks have felt like no time at all. The final week of term is being dominated by revision sessions and coursework deadlines but as long as you are on top of things it is proving to be a relaxing and enjoyable time of year for everyone, even for us lot, the Mech Eng'ers!

It was fantastic this week to have a free Christmas meal arranged by our resident tutors - it was a sociable occasion with plenty of good food and drink and put everyone in our accommodation block in festive spirits. Afterwards everybody on my level of the Quads C building took part in a Secret Santa and it was a great opportunity to have a laugh with all the friends I have shared this first term with.

My previous blogs have mentioned the fact that rowing has become an important part of my life since I started university. I had never rowed before and so with each week of term I have a new rowing experience to add my student tales. The last weekend of term was no exception and for me it was my first opportunity to actually race in a boat on the water - before this I had only competed in the indoor rowing event. The UBBC Head Race took place just downstream in Bristol and went without a hitch; both novices and seniors came home smiling. For us novices it was a great opportunity to see what all the training was for and despite the freezing temperatures the weather was brilliant and the day couldn’t have gone any better.

The Christmas rowing head race

The Christmas rowing head race

We celebrated in the evening with a team meal in a local curry house before coming back up to campus for Klass (the Saturday club night held in the Plug and Tub); all in all another action packed day at the University of Bath. The following morning we all woke up a little bleary eyed with heads spinning but this could be easily remedied by a trip to the Bath Christmas market. This festive market is renowned nationwide and the vast array of food and drink on sale could cure any hangover. We took advantage of having such a seasonal event on our doorstep, against the beautiful backdrop of Bath's picturesque streets, and browsed the hundreds of stalls that fill the city centre. Feeling full of Christmas cheer, we were able to cap it all off with yet more wintry activities by heading up to the ice rink in Victoria Park. Another afternoon outside under the winter sun making the most of what this fabulous city has to offer at this time of year - I'm not complaining!

With more rowing socials organised for the end of the week it’s time to think about packing and sorting myself out for the revision that lies ahead whilst I’m back at home this Christmas. Having made notes on all of my lecture topics thus far I’ve found it really useful to ensure that I am completely ready and organised for my trip home and that I have everything I need to revise whilst down in Devon. I’ve tried to print out many of things I will need over the Christmas break and, if I haven’t, I’ve made sure that I know where to find them on Moodle – the online platform used by every student and lecturer here at Bath. On Moodle every student is able to find lecture notes, past exam papers and much more, all of which come in handy when trying to catch up on topics that you may not completely understand.

With all of this in mind it’s time for me to crack on with the rest on my packing. My bags will be loaded to the gunnels with lecture notes and dirty washing. A Christmas at home of rest and relaxation awaits but I am certain when I say that no one can wait to come back to the madness of campus life – it will be sorely missed by all even if we are only away for a couple of weeks. Life in sleepy Devon is definitely not at the same pace as life here but I am looking forward to it all the same. A chance to eat lots of good food, tell family and friends about my first term and a chance to use the washing machine of course...I'll be back next semester in 2015 with some freshly laundered clothes!

 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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

Welcome to Bath Christmas market

Mulled wine, Bailey's hot chocolates, chestnuts roasting on an open fire (or in the microwave if you're a student). Yes, it can only mean one thing - it's almost Christmas and there are definitely many worse places to spend Christmas than Bath.

If you have ever visited Bath or if you ever plan to visit Bath, I can guarantee that you will love it. However, in the run up to Christmas, an already beautiful city becomes the Disney-type festive fairytale that, if taken with a glass of mulled wine, is a winter wonderland that everyone will love all thanks to the Bath Christmas Market.

Bath Christmas Market

Bath Christmas Market

It would be criminal to be a student in Bath and not visit the market at least once. Every day, bus loads of tourists come to Bath from across England and Wales - for University of Bath students it's a 10 minute bus journey. The market is also a fantastic opportunity for you to get some cheap clutter to give to your parents for Christmas. Buy your father a pointless wooden tie and get your mother a ceramic circle that doesn't seem to serve any purpose whatsoever. You can even get a personalised pillow for your dog. Yes, it may be stupid but it's cheap and it looks like you've put effort into your shopping.

The Christmas Market starts around 27th of November and runs for around 3 weeks until around 14th December. 170 wooden chalets line the city centre beside Bath Abbey - around every corner you are confronted with intriguing tastes and smells from candle makers to German hot dog stalls (which I would highly recommend investigating). To be honest, I only really go for the food. The streets are always packed full of shoppers doing their shopping. Bath is a fantastic city for doing your Christmas shopping because it's a small city with everything you could need within a 10-15 minute walk and because it's a student city, most shops offer up to 20% student discount! So don't worry, when it comes to the end of term and you realise that you haven't even begun to look for your friends' Christmas presents; an evening spent in the city will give you more than enough time to buy more than you actually need and more than they actually deserve.

You can see a comprehensive list of the market stalls here.

Whilst the market is a brilliant attraction in itself, there are loads of other Christmassy things to do in Bath at this time of year:

Climb Bath Abbey - £6 

The Abbey enjoys a position of being the flagstone of Bath at the heart of the city centre. The building itself is magnificent but if you think the pictures of the market so far are nice, imagine looking down on that from the tallest building in the city. Not to mention that this £6 includes a complementary glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate.

Bath Abbey overlooking the market

Bath Abbey overlooking the market

Ice-Skating 

You can do this in Victoria Park whenever you like but your hall reps will usually organise a group activity which you can sign up to. What better way is there to make it feel like christmas?

Flat Christmas

When living in halls, one of the best events of term is "Flat Christmas". This is where you celebrate Christmas early and do secret santa and have Christmas dinner with your flat in the middle of December. This year, a new eatery was opened on campus which is called The Limetree. For some reason unknown to us students, the Limetree decided that this year, they would give away free Christmas dinners for a weekend. It was of course a first come, first serve basis and you had to book tickets for sittings in advance online but my whole flat managed to get a really nice Christmas dinner for FREE. Yes, FREE. There's a good chance that they will be doing the same thing next year so keep watch on your emails if you decide to come here.

We then came back to our flat and put a video of a fire on our lounge TV, put up some fairy lights and distributed the secret santa presents. I received a hip flask which seemed like it had been wrapped by a 3 year old or a drunken 20 year old but I guess it's the thought that counts, right?

Our 'Flat' Christmas

Our 'Flat' Christmas

Now I need to change my flight home because I'm getting to go home 3 days early! Whoop whoop.

Matt

 

There’s an app for that… [Enterprise at Bath]

  

📥  Harry, School of Management

I’m a big technology fan, and certainly like to think of myself as a bit of an entrepreneur (I am a business student after all) so when I joined Banter, the society for Bath Entrepreneurs, and learned about their competition to design an app and win a trip to Silicon Valley in California you can be sure I was going to enter. The competition, called Apps Crunch is run by Enterprise Bath which is an alumni funded initiative run by the university which provides fantastic opportunities for entrepreneurs at the University of Bath.

Apps Crunch then, requires you to join together in teams or 2 or 3 (enter my cofounder Cecilia) to come up with an app idea (Back to Business - more on this in a bit!) to write a business plan, produce a wireframe for the app and then potentially present your idea at the finals for a chance to win the trip.

The level of competition was fantastic; having done a few business competitions back at school you really could see this was the next level. There were so many ideas that were genuinely innovative and original - something that is not easy to do in a world where there seems to be an ‘app for everything’.

So what was our idea I hear you ask! Well, without giving too much away we came up with Back to Business, an app that feeds information to small business owners. The rationale being that micro-business owners (businesses with 0-9 employees) spend far too much time searching out information that they need to know but simply don’t have to time to find. A prime example of this would be a change in health and safety regulations. Business owners need to know this, but unless they’re told when do they find out… usually when they’re in trouble for breaching the rules is the answer!

Back to Business

Our 'Back to Business' app

Our app aims to make sure business owners no longer find out these things when it’s too late. This is just a snap shot of what the app will do, but until it’s up and running you’ll just have to wait and see, I’m afraid!

So how did the competition go!? Well, the short answer would be to tell you that we didn’t win. Although the real answer would be to say we learnt a huge amount about writing a business plan, making a wireframe - digitally sketching out all the screens in our app (which neither of us have done before) and how to develop an idea from a simple concept to a realistic business plan. We’re already working on developing the idea into a proper feasible business plan through another of Bath Enterprises competitions and are now working with a mentor to add more direction to our work. It just goes to show that if you’re in the slightest bit entrepreneurial the support and encouragement from both the University and students around you can really inspire you to make cool ideas a reality.

I hope to be able to update you on our progress next semester. For more info on Bath Enterprise just check out their Facebook page!

Cheers, Harry.

 

Being dyslexic at Bath

  

📥  Harry, School of Management

I have always found it ironic that dyslexia is such a difficult word to spell - even now (being dyslexic myself) I had to use the spell check to make sure it was right.

In this post I’m hoping to share my experiences of what it’s like to be dyslexic at university, what support the university and the government can give you and what you need to do now in order to make sure all that support is available when you finally make it to Bath because if you’re thinking about revision for your A2’s now - blink and you’ll be here at uni in a flash!

Firstly, if when you filled out and submitted your UCAS application you declared yourself to have a disability (be that dyslexia or something else) then the universities that you declare as your first and second choice will most likely contact you with some (to be honest quite boring) but really important forms which you should definitely take time to fill out, as this is how the Uni will assess how they can best help you.

An alternative to typing!

An alternative to typing!

Secondly, and most importantly, check to see whether you’re eligible for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) because this is an absolutely awesome initiative by the government that helps disabled students access the technology they need to be able to perform at their best at university. If you’re eligible then I believe you can already begin the application process by downloading an application form from the DSA website. I would recommend doing this as soon as you can because as with most government processes, it’s quite long. You may have to get an assessment of your disability completed before you can apply as well, and all these things take time to organise although hopefully your school can help you out with this!

So you’ve applied early, got all the necessary assessments done and the DSA people (whoever they are) have decided that you do indeed have a disability (of course you’ve know this all along but now they officially agree!), so what are the benefits. Well you start by going to another assessment, yes another one, called a needs assessment. Fear not though because this one is different! The assessment takes place at a local assessment centre so you won’t have to travel far. It takes place with an experienced professional who will first start by asking you questions about things like how you work, what technology you currently use and whether you think certain types of technology might be useful for you. The whole process isn’t rushed so you have plenty of time to talk about all your needs and even try out some of the dyslexia busting gadgets. In all I was there for about 2 hours but it varies depending on what you need.

It’s important to remember that this assessment is no longer about proving your disability but finding out how technology, strategies and learning support can help you at Uni. This is awesome because (even as a self confessed tech fan) I was so surprised at the software and support that could help me out. For instance as a result of the DSA I can now use a piece of software called Dragon that to dictate my essays. It may not sound much but for my specific needs it makes a world of difference. In fact, I’m even speaking out this blog post right now… creepy huh! “Hellooooooo”. Of course my flatmates think I’m a bit weird because I like to talk to myself in my room about how a rise in inflation could seriously affect small businesses but there are pros and cons to everything!

This really is just the start though, there is mind mapping software, read aloud software, advanced spelling software the list is endless. They can also help you out with providing new laptops, printers and personalised 1-1 support where you can get specific help with your learning disabilities, all which as I’m sure you know can make a massive difference. So yes, if you're like me (awesome and have dyslexia etc) then I can’t stress enough the benefits of applying for DSA, there is masses to be gained and nothing to lose!

If you would like any advice on applying or on dyslexia in general talk to either the Students Disability Advice Team or drop me a comment below!

Until the next post!

Harry.

 

Cooking in Self-Catered Accommodation

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Hannah

When choosing accommodation for your first year at university the main decision you’ll have to make is between catered and self-catered. There are of course pros and cons to both and it’s quite a difficult choice to make when you’ve had no experience of living in them. A lot of people panic about cooking and cleaning for themselves at university and I wasn’t any different. Before I came to university I had a reputation in my family for being a terrible cook. So I always thought that I would live in a catered accommodation. It can make life easier, as there’s no stress about cooking when you’re tired or have a lot of work to do and you don’t need to do regular food shopping. Have a read of Joseph’s blog for more info about living in catered accommodation at Bath University.

But surprisingly enough I chose to live in self-catered. As my parents pointed out everyone is self-catered in second year anyway and first year is quite a good time to get used to looking after yourself. You have less to do in first year and so more time for cooking! However, and I cannot say this enough, I knew absolutely nothing about cooking before I came to university. I used to phone my parents and friends for advice every time I made a meal. If this is you, don’t worry. Uni is actually a great place to try stuff out and it’s totally stress free because you’re only cooking for yourself. This means you get to cook exactly what you want and if you make a mistake or it doesn’t look like the picture in the recipe book doesn’t matter! It will also provide a lot of laughs for your new housemates!

Shopping

Food shopping is a pretty important part of self-catering and if you don’t keep on top of it you will end up eating a lot of pasta and toast. As the uni isn’t in town and is on the top of a massive hill shopping can seem like a bit of a pain at first. No one wants to trek all the way into town every single week and haul a load of shopping back on the bus. There is a shop, Fresh, on Campus but because it’s the only one buying food there can end up being expensive. Although there are lots of fairly cheap restaurants and food outlets on campus it’s nice to make your own meals in your kitchen – this for me was the best way to get to know your flatmates. So my solution was online shopping. Delivery vans are a common sight on the roads around Eastwood. I usually shop with Asda and get good deals and good quality food.

Cupboard stocked-up!

Cupboard stocked-up!

However supermarkets aren’t really geared to people only shopping for food for one person. Most deals include 2 or 3 of something when you only need one or big packets that go off after you’ve only eaten one portion of them. This is where your new best friend, the freezer, comes in handy. I often cook three or four servings of a meal in one go and then freeze the rest. This can be really helpful if you have any late night training or societies as you can just heat up your dinner when you get home (and it’s healthier than ready-made meals). Also another way of getting around this problem is to do one shop every two weeks. This means you can buy some things, like meat, in bulk and stock up on things like milk and bread as and when you run out.

Ideally I aim to spend £25-£30 a week on food, though sometimes I do go over this, especially if Fresh have their £3 Ben and Jerry’s deal! Also don’t worry of you find you spend too much or you always buy too much/too little when you first come to uni. It takes a bit of time to work out what’s right for you.

Cooking

Shopping is the easy bit – now you’ve got to actually cook it! It can be very tempting at the beginning to try and live off pasta, especially after Fresher’s week when you barely have the energy to get out of bed and go to lectures let alone cook. And I won’t deny it – pasta is great. You can have loads of different sauces with it, it goes with meat and vegetable and it’s a quick and easy dish. But it can get quite boring and pasta 7 days a week is not exactly healthy eating. Most of my family are very good cooks so I am quite used to eating good home cooked food and a few weeks into university I realised how much I was missing it. So I did some research online and found some simple and cheap recipes that came out really well.

Student Recipes is a good site because it organises its recipes by ingredients so if you’ve bought some chicken and aren’t quite sure what to do with it have a look on here for a really varied list of meals with chicken.

BBC Good Food is good for all the basics. There are a lot of really easy dishes that I didn’t know or understand the methods for and they are really well explained here.

Online recipes are also good as people leave comments of their own experiences making the dish and suggestions for improvement, so have a quick flick through before you start!

Batch of shepherd's pie

Batch of shepherd's pie

I have several easy to make meals that I always fall back on. Chilli con carne is one of my favourites, simple to make, freezeable (and doesn’t lose any of its taste when reheated), and you can have it with rice, cous cous or pasta so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating the same meal over and over again. Risotto is good as well – you can add virtually anything to it which is a good way of using up any left overs. Other simple meals are roasted vegetables, shepherd’s pie, roast potatoes, sausages, quiche, frittata, toad in the hole…it all depends on what you like! Some people like to cook with their friends and take it in turn to cook for each other which can give you a bit of a break. Just make sure you find someone with similar tastes to you!

In the end I was really glad I chose self-catered accommodation – I now enjoy cooking (and I used to hate it) and its fun trying out new recipes even if sometimes they don’t work out. So don’t be put off applying to self-catered because you feel like you can’t cook, it’s a great time and place to learn!