Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Being an Academic Rep

  

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

One of the biggest parts of the Gold Scholarship Programme is doing 50 hours of volunteering each year… this can be pretty daunting, especially for me as a pharmacy student with a very busy timetable! The way I’m getting the majority of my hours completed is by being an Academic Representative for my course.

Academic Reps are the ‘voice’ for students on their course.

We cover any sort of academic issue (the hint is in the name), such as receiving feedback for assignments or encouraging the recording of lectures. It’s a great way to make a change and ensure we have the best experience as students!

All of us come together for the annual academic conference to learn how to make the most of our roles

Every month, we have two meetings to attend and these are our opportunities to raise any issues. One meeting is with the Director of Studies for your course, accompanied with a selection of lecturers and other key staff – this is where you talk about course-specific issues. The other meeting is with other Academic Reps and the SU Education Officer, to discuss any university-wide problems and share tips and successes.

Eager Academic Reps queueing for free hoodies and goody bags

Obviously the main perk for me, as a Gold Scholar, is the volunteering hours! We also get free lunches at meetings (some have even included a Krispy Kreme doughnut…) and a free hoodie and goody bag at Academic Conference – this is a day-long event with lots of workshops about how to create change. But overall, it's just fab to be part of improving my degree for both current students and future students in years to come.

 

The Not So Scary Networking Event

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

Scared. Anxious. Uncomfortable. They were all words that sprung to mind when I heard about the Gold Scholarship Programme networking event on the 1st November. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The training provided before made the thought of networking seem less overwhelming and more achievable to carry out.

Every mentor was welcoming and helpful to all of us scholars, making sure we felt at ease in the situation so foreign to us first year students. The idea of speaking to people, who I didn’t know, about their journey and my future was scary, but within 10 minutes my worries were washed away. The evening was informative, yet still relaxed and full of friendly people to turn to for advice on everything from university life to how they got into their field of work.

I never imagined that I would be going to canape events in my first year of university. I expected to be eating super noodles on a student budget! The Gold Scholarship Programme brings so many opportunities and the networking event is definitely one of those. I spoke to people from different career backgrounds, making me aware of all the opportunities out there after graduation. It’s a scary thought to be looking into careers just two months into starting university, but it allowed me to challenge my idea of what I want to do, and explore other opportunities available to me, including careers I didn’t know even existed. Coming to university, I didn’t know the exact career path I wanted to follow, but now, I’ve discovered so many opportunities available to me as a sociology student.

Following the event, I learnt that it doesn’t have to be the scary or dreaded event that it sounds. It really is as simple as talking to someone and getting to know them. It can also be as important as making connections for future careers, but don’t let that put you off! Networking is something that I expect to do again in the future, and I’m so thankful to have experienced this already with the support and guidance of the scholarship team.

 

All About the Gold Scholarship Programme

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

Applying for a scholarship can sound both scary and exciting, but I couldn’t recommend the Gold Scholarship Programme enough. There are so many opportunities offered by the programme, including volunteering, networking and skill building.

The Gold Scholarship Welcome Event

The financial support is an obvious benefit of the scholarship, limiting many of the worries and struggles associated with being a student. Moving out for university I worried about how I would manage my money for food, rent and social activities. Like many others, I’d never had to budget before. With the money from the scholarship I can feel more confident and at ease knowing I’m not struggling financially.

The volunteering and mentoring opportunities are just as valuable, if not more. Although 50 hours of volunteering sounds intensive and out of reach, there are so many things to get involved with. With so many different volunteering positions to get involved with, it may lead to finding a role to explore as a job in the future. The volunteering positions are also chosen by you, so what you do can be something personal, or something completely new. As part of my volunteering hours I’m hoping to volunteer at a food bank over Christmas, as its something that has always interested me, and now the scholarship has given me the push to do it. Although I’m yet to take advantage of the mentoring, its an opportunity to make connections with alumni who have studied the same course or work in a sector similar to your ambitions.

Peer Group Activities

Alongside this, the Gold Scholarship Programme creates an opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. The prospect of university can be scary, and the fear of not getting along with people was something that worried me. The welcome event definitely helped me with this. From the general socialising at the beginning of the event to the creation of peer groups, the welcome day enabled all 50 of us scholars to interact and get to know each other.

If you’re thinking about applying for this scholarship, then do it. There is so much to be gained.

 

Starting University

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

My first week of university was full of emotions. There were highs and lows, laughter and tears, but most importantly, memories that I will cherish forever. Saying goodbye was hard, realising that university was suddenly happening and I actually had to leave my mum! I was already missing the familiarity of my home town and my sixth form, where everyone knew everyone. I felt like I was on my own on this new journey, in a new place, with new people. In reality, everyone was in the same boat as me, just as scared.

I learnt that it’s okay to be scared. It’s also okay to feel like you’ve made the wrong decision. But the most important thing to remember is that it does get better. Admittedly, I doubted this. I thought I would forever be wishing I was back home with my mum. I promise, that this feeling does pass. Within 5 days I was as happy as could be. Yes, I still missed home, but I was also enjoying every second of my time at the University of Bath. The scenery, friendliness of everyone, and the contagious happiness of fresher’s week definitely helped me to settle in. Freshers nights helped to distract me from feelings of homesickness, and each day, the transition from living at home to living alone became so much easier. The truth is, you’re never actually alone here at Bath. There is always someone to turn to when you want to cry, or just need someone to talk to.

Living on campus was a huge benefit. My accommodation is central to everywhere I need to be, with plenty of places to eat and drink within a minutes’ walk! I immediately made friends with my flatmates, and made sure to explore the new area that I will be calling home for the next three years. Although, I do still get lost going to lectures! Day 2 was spent shopping in the city of Bath, buying all the needed accessories for the various themes of freshers. Within hours, I was all set for each night of Freshers week – a neon pink top for UV night and a bed sheet for toga night. The rest of the week comprised of welcome talks to the department of social sciences, where I was able to meet the people on my course. It was weird to be going back to learning after such a long summer off, but I’m so glad we had the talks. It brought routine to the week which I desperately needed to help me settle in.

 

Being a student society committee member: Chem Ball MMXVI

  

📥  Undergraduate

Everyone wants to find their crowd at university. Everyone wants to find people they identify with, activities they love doing, events they look forward to attending. Some students will relate to course mates, bonding over late-night revision sessions and that one unanswerable question in the tutorial. Others will turn to societies, and peruse the hefty list of hobbies, values, and beliefs to find their people. For me, it was a winning combination of the two.

September 2014 was the month I became a chemistry student at Bath. All I ever wanted was to do was to be a scientist, and to belong in a department with like-minded people. As soon as I arrived, I signed up for the Bath University Chemistry Society: 'Chem:Soc', and that’s where it all started. I attended every social going, making new connections and getting to know my peers. The Chem:Soc Christmas meal 2014 was distinctly notable, as here was my earliest memory of the formation of my chemistry friendship circle. I’ll always think well of the West Gate pub for that!

The focal point of this year however, was the Chemistry Ball. Held at the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms, the night promised panache, class, and the opportunity to see our lecturers unleash their inner party animals. For the weeks building up the Chem Ball, I could barely contain my excitement! Little did I know that the Ball was going to very much shape my second year experience at the University of Bath, for this was the night that inspired me to run for the Chem:Soc committee.

ChemBall- it was just so fancy!

I didn’t have much time to mull this over – elections were in the weeks following the ball. This was probably a good thing because elections are stressful, and your irrational mind tells you that nobody will vote for you. I ran for the position of treasurer, faced with opposition, and decided to go full steam ahead with the campaign. My friend chose to run for chairman, and we both went in blind with nothing to go on but determination to help our fellow students find their feet as we had done in the year gone by. You can see where this is going; we both won our positions!

So Project Chemball MMXVI was born. The first thing we did was book the Pump Rooms eight months prior to the ball. Whilst we were looking forward to running all our socials, and providing points-of-contact for our members should they need us, we did everything within our power to host a party unlike one we’ve ever thrown before. We thought we were being super clever branding the ball with a Roman numeral trademark, linking the anno Domini ‘2016’ with the BC world of the Roman Baths. It was a project invested in by a curious cohort and executed by a strong committee (seriously committee guys – you’re the best).

My role as treasurer was hard. I was the right-hand (wo)man to the chair, and basically told him what we could and couldn’t afford to do. Getting my head around SU commission was tough; having to negotiate with restaurants and bus companies was out of my comfort zone. We even haggled with the Chemball caterers, something my meek conscience had never dreamt of doing. Everything we did, we did with Chemball MMXVI in mind. It was not cheap, we knew this from the start, but making profits on our welcome social, Bristol social, and Christmas dinner allowed us to subsidise the ticket costs and widen the inclusivity of our highly-anticipated night.

300 tickets sold to placement students, chemistry students, natural scientists, lecturers. The day of the ball had arrived! I woke up and immediately started to document the progression of the day; the morning in to afternoon, the afternoon in to evening. Lectures (really sorry) seemed to go on forever – we were just too excited (and at this point, ridiculously nervous). I rushed home to allow a shameful amount of time to get ready and then bundled into a taxi with the rest of the committee to go and get the party started.

It was a damp night which wasn’t particularly convenient for running around town carting speakers from cars to the venue, but alas, we managed. Having chatted to our event managers and double checked the quantity of champagne available, we were good to go. A queue started to form outside under the sleety skies, and suddenly everything felt under control and almost serene. From there on in it was relatively smooth-sailing. Conversations were flowing (as well as the wine) around the steely green water, laughter was bouncing from ancient wall to ancient wall, and my heart-rate was beginning to settle down. A black-tie event; I was overwhelmed with how smart everybody looked and the efforts that were made. Not that I didn’t think my peers were capable of scrubbing up well, I just struggled to believe that they were doing so because of an event that I’d helped to run.

The Roman Baths by night, as captured by our brilliant photographer Freddie

At 8pm sharp, we were called to dinner. A delightful array of soulful food in the most elegant of rooms. Towards the end of the meal, the chairman and I were allowed to climb up the balcony to take some photos of the dining room. This didn’t go unnoticed; suddenly the room started to applause in the kindest of gestures and I was stunned with the alien notion of feeling completely in my element (excuse the pun). My experience with Chem:Soc, as horrifically cheesy as it sounds, helped me to find my place in chemistry. It was a confidence-booster, a challenge, and a bonding experience with my peers. Yes, it was irksome at times, it was tiring, and it involved playing ‘mum’ on nights out. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Me and Robin (Chairman) enjoying the night

 

What it’s like to study civil engineering at Bath: an update from my first semester

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, Undergraduate

One of the main reasons that I came to study at the University of Bath was the quality of the teaching and the content of the course. The course at Bath is heavily design focused compared to other universities – though this is the case you don’t necessarily need to be good at drawing (as I’m certainly not), but being able to communicate well through sketching is important. This is something that can be practiced though, so don’t let it put you off applying.

For the first semester the architecture and civil engineering students get taught the same units for everything except geology – I think I’m right in saying there is no other university in the UK with a joint architecture and civil engineering department. It’s also interesting to see how both groups differ in their approach to solving problems and to understand each other’s point of view when designing – one favours architectural beauty and the other structural stability. As the two professions are closely related, it's beneficial to learn how to better work together in preparation for future careers- something that is a key feature of the course at Bath.

Our first main project was a unit called Design Studio, and the brief was to design a place to sit that exemplified the theme “floating” in some way using all the materials that we were given. Initially we were randomly allocated into groups of 5/6 and instructed to design a 1:10 model of our proposed chair. This process involved purchasing card, paper, string and balsa wood that was used to represent OSB, canvas, rope and softwood rods and creating small scale models. We probably made over 20 models before we settled on a design to focus on – modelling really helps to see how the chair will work physically and can convey ideas a lot better than drawings.

After the 2 weeks we had a “crit” which involved our model being critiqued by some of the lecturers, who gave us lots of good feedback. Shortly before it we were told we had to make the model at a 1:1 scale using the real materials – so it changed our perspective on things knowing it had to hold someone’s weight. In 4 weeks we had to make changes to the design to improve it structurally and aesthetically and then physically construct it alongside creating a design report. We split the workload between all of us according to our strengths – for example the architects did the drawings for the design report and those who had done DT at A-level did a lot of the construction.

Our final model for the first crit

Overall the project was very enjoyable and a great learning experience, but it was also tough at points. Agreeing how to proceed with design decisions and where to make compromises took a long time and it was difficult to make everyone happy. However, it gave us the invaluable experience of working in a multi-disciplinary team on an interesting and challenging task, something I am very thankful to have done (this wasn’t the case at certain points in the project!) Despite the struggles, the outcome was much better than I expected. At the final crit the lecturers loved our concept and the execution of the construction which gave us a nice end to the project.

Our finished structure

Another interesting unit we do is called Structures 1A. We learn about where and how forces act on structural elements in a building to keep it all in equilibrium and which materials are used to optimise performance in a building taking in to account cost, life expectancy, and lots of other things. Not only do we look at successful examples, but we also study why certain structures fail - whether it’s down to poor design of a connection or certain materials being put under extreme conditions which have not been accounted for in the planning. Making sure these mistakes are not repeated is key for any engineer.

To start with, the teaching was at a very basic level covering concepts like stress, strain and mechanical equilibrium which are taught at A-level physics. This is done to get everyone onto the same level as some people might not have taken physics or have forgotten that stuff. The teaching isn’t all lectures; we have tutorials where specific questions can be asked based on questions we’ve been assigned, and we have laboratory sessions to support the material taught in lectures. These lab sessions have involved us compressing concrete until it breaks and putting steel rods under tension until they snap. They help to understand the concepts taught in the lectures and show what it takes to break materials we would typically deem as being very strong.

The remnants of the broken concrete blocks

All in all, the start to my civil engineering course has been thoroughly enjoyable and has made me excited for the rest of my time here – we will see if my enthusiasm for it lasts!

 

Management sandwich placements at Bath

  

📥  Undergraduate

Hi there!

Welcome to my first student blog post. I am a second-year BSc Management with Marketing student, drowning in work but loving every second of it. As you may know, the University of Bath’s School of Management is renowned for their various ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ sandwich degrees. The thick sandwich degree structure, entails is a ‘juicy’ year out working in an industry relevant to your course; an industrial placement. These placements are invaluable experiences that stand you in good stead for future graduate job applications.

In contrast, the thin-sandwich degree structure is ideal for students who wish to fulfil more work placements of a shorter timespan throughout their course period. These placements often take place over one semester. The University encourages students to enrol in a sandwich course structure and have established an incredible support system for the application process. This post will hopefully provide you with some inside details on how the thick sandwich degree Industrial Placement application process is carried out and possibly convince you to choose this type of degree.

There is more than one type of thick sandwich in Bath

A bit about the University of Bath support for placement students …

There are three fundamental elements that support the Industrial Placement Application Process; Mock Applications, lectures as part of your Personal Development Program (PDP), and a Placement Team specific to your course. In addition to these support systems, the University has a general Careers Centre and hosts many on-campus company presentations, events and Careers Fairs. All of these are great opportunities to take advantage of and are useful to you when seeking and applying for a placement; be sure to make the most of them if you come to Bath to study Management. Furthermore, if you are unsure of which company or industry you would like to work in they are geared to assist you and guide you.

It is currently the week of my mock interviews; the second stage of the mock application process. The first stage of this application process involves sending my CV and cover letter; which I worked on throughout my first year at University. The Placements Team sends feedback on CVs during the summer holidays, and this helped to ensure that I was prepared to start second year off with a stellar application just waiting to be sent out. My interview is tomorrow and I feel well prepared having attended the University Careers Fair where I spoke to my mock company to get an idea of what they look for in a prospective student. In addition, I have attended all of my course specific PDP sessions which are really good at helping to create that special cover letter, develop interview skills and guide you on how to be successful in the application process.

With the right support, interviews don't have to be scary!

Interacting with Companies on campus…

Many PDP sessions are led by external speakers from various UK firms. These professionals aim to present their company principles and values while giving valuable tips for the application process ahead. I recently attended a Slimfast session on ‘Networking while on your placement’. Here I learnt some keys facts about the firm, developed my understanding of the importance of networking and how to go about it in a professional manner (as well as getting my hands on some great freebies).

In addition to these compulsory PDP sessions, we have many opportunities to attend various optional sessions. Some of the optional sessions which I attended include; a PwC Presentation on Psychometric Testing and a MARS presentation on why sustainability is a strong focus in their company. Your placements team works hard to ensure that there is something for everyone; they are persistent in posting about opportunities to ‘meet the firm’ at company presentations and networking events. A highlight from my second year so far has been the pizza and networking event arranged by the Placements Team wherein returning Industrial Placement students and students currently seeking placements were able to gain some personal insight and tips on company placements whilst socialising over pizza. A great way to network.

Get involved with societies that improve your employability…

Here at Bath, there is a diverse and exciting range of societies that have all sorts of weird and wonderful things to offer and can really help to boost your employability. Among these societies are the business-related ones such as The University of Bath Management Society, Enactus, Women in Business and Bath Entrepreneurs. These groups are geared to enhance your employability by sharing external company events and competitions and hosting speakers to stimulate your entrepreneurial mind. In addition, they hold socials in the beautiful City of Bath; so, there is a work hard/play hard mentality if that interests you.

For the entrepreneurs out there…

For those of you that are keen entrepreneurs, Bath Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Bath are two groups to look out for during your time at university. Enterprise Bath hold many entrepreneurial competitions such as Apps Crunch, The Business Plan Competition and Dragons’ Den. If you have a business or app idea that you would like to develop, be it in a group or individually, then these are just for you.

On that note, did you know that you can use your own business as your Industrial Placement! This has been done before and has proven to be an incredible hands-on experience in which you gain practical skills, immensely develop a business-like mind and create something of your own at the same time. Bath alumni Rob Huysinga did exactly this on his 6 month BBA placement where he co-founded the company Pan-N-Ice. Who knows, maybe this could be you one day.

Well, there you have it, insight on the Bath University Industrial Placement Process. I hope that this blog post assists you in understanding the ‘thick sandwich’ degree at Bath and for current students reading this; good luck with your applications!

 

Cooking and Eating as a First Year

  

📥  Undergraduate

Whether you’re the Queen of England or Dave from Westwood, there is one thing that connects us all. That rumbling feeling in your stomach in your 9am because you just rolled out of bed without breakfast, or that insatiable lust for Domino’s after a night out; hunger is universal. But that’s where the similarities end. For some, food is sustenance. For others, it’s their purpose in life.

Personally, I never thought too hard about food when deciding to come to Bath - I knew I wanted self-catered accommodation and I trusted that I could feed myself somehow, but beyond that I had no plans. However, with such a busy Freshers’ Week and the first few weeks, it's useful to have a clearer idea of how you’re going to eat. It’s not something you want to be trying to figure out whilst you’re getting barraged with new information about timetables and socials. With that in mind, here are some cooking and eating habits I’ve found so far as a student in Bath.

The Budgeter

This person is smart and responsible. Their kitchen cupboard and fridge shelf will always be organised and well-stocked, yet they never seem to spend as much money as you. Their secret? Online shopping. Bulk buying may seem unnecessary when you live five minutes from Fresh but when you see an online deal for half-price pasta sauce and you buy enough to drown in, you can sure as hell bet you’ll have food for the next few semesters at least. Just make sure you really like pasta.

On a serious note, as much as online shopping may seem lazy, it is simply the most convenient way to get your groceries when you live on campus. They deliver right to your door and let you return the crates at your leisure. Make sure to buy in bulk and shop with some friends or flatmates to lower the cost of delivery.

The Eater-Outer

On the other end of the sensibility spectrum is the person who likes to eat out all the time. The person who makes a beeline to The Parade Grill after every lecture and knows the menu to every restaurant in town. Everyone has their own habits though, and especially in the first year, you might find yourself being a bit like this person. And for good reason, because eating out is a social occasion – I found one of the easiest ways to get to know people on my course was to talk to them a bit during lectures and then ask if they wanted to get food afterwards (note: this only works for certain times of the day).

The Meal Planner

The Meal Planner is a truly gifted person. They have the magical superpower of seeing into the future, and they can predict what they’re going to be eating for the next five days. Pasta. Pasta. Pasta. Pasta. Pasta.

But for all the sacrifices their taste buds will have to make, their schedule will reap the rewards. A one-hour gap between lectures is often not enough time to walk back, prep, cook, eat and walk to your next lecture. If you do a course with more than a few days where you’re short for time at lunch, consider breaking out the plastic containers and freezing some Bolognese. You’ll thank yourself later.

Stocking up in 'Fresh' on campus

The Junk Foodie

Bless the junk foodie. They’re not harming anyone. They just want to eat their crisps and biscuits in peace, and not deal with their flatmates asking if that is indeed what they’re having for dinner. Yes, it is. Now if you’ll excuse me and my diminishing figure, I have deadlines to attend to (junk foodies often appear when assignments are due. If you see one, make sure it has lots of its drink of choice, coffee.)

The Meal Dealer

The Meal Dealer is similar to the Junk Foodie, in that it’s choice of eating habit is based mainly on convenience (or laziness, depending on how you look at it). However, they differ in one key aspect: the willpower to endure the huge queues at Fresh during lunch and dinner hours. The meal deal (sandwich, snack and drink) costs a measly £3, and is something that can keep you upright during your afternoon lectures, though as a dinner option it leaves you wanting more.

So, there you have it: five different eating and cooking habits at Bath. With a range of lifestyles, eating habits, budgets and some of the finest restaurants (and kebab shops) in the country, you’ll be spoiled for choice when your stomach starts rumbling.

 

Freshers' Week for the mildly awkward

  

📥  Undergraduate

It’s loud. It’s fast. It begins with a tearful goodbye to your parents and ends hungover at 9am in a lecture hall wondering why you didn’t just take a gap year instead. It’s Freshers’ Week, and for some people, it’s far from their ideal week.

Personally, I knew it was going to be a hard week to get through before it started. I’m not a heavy drinker, clubs are a bit too loud for me and meeting so many new people in so little time sounded a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, I still wanted to make friends. I still wanted to enjoy my time. You’re only ever a Fresher once, they say.

Moving in takes place over the first weekend. I moved in early on Saturday, and despite having to wake up at 7am and leave the comfort of my own bed, it was worth the extra effort. Being the first in your accommodation means you can meet people as they trickle in. You have time to settle in and breathe, you can help others with their luggage and you can get to know your flatmates one by one. For someone who’s not as outgoing in group conversations, this was a huge plus. One of my flatmates brought along a few biscuit cans full of homemade brownies to share, and though it didn’t occur to me beforehand, it definitely seemed like a good way to be friendly with your flat without having to utter a single word.

Chocolate, a quick way to anyone's heart

With the weekend out of the way, it was time to get down and dirty. Our Eastwood house consisting of eleven guys (at least the toilet seat’s always up) managed to fill one of our three fridges entirely with beer.  It was a magnificent sight to behold even if my stomach did tremble a bit. There’s a lot to do during Freshers’ week even if you don’t have a hankering for hops though. Every night there are two films shown around campus and on Monday it was Guardians of the Galaxy 2, my favourite movie (I know, I have very refined tastes). Seeing that on a big screen, I wouldn’t miss it for anything, not even ‘the sesh’. ‘But it’s the sesh!’ my flatmates exclaimed. ‘But it’s Baby Groot! I replied and away I was. I did worry that I might’ve alienated my flatmates a bit by missing out on the first big night out, and throughout the week I did make conscious attempts to not be M.I.A or in my room for too long, but ultimately I realised that even if you don’t go out with your flat every night, and you don’t sit down to have dinner with them everyday, they will still like you.

There are a range of activities during the day such as arts & crafts, yoga sessions and city tours. If you can summon up the energy to venture out into the cold wilderness of not your room, you can find something happening on campus at all times, guaranteed. Everything from going around collecting freebies from the Freshers’ fair to going around a second time and hoping they don’t recognise you. The struggle is perhaps not finding things to do, but people to do them with. For most people coming out of secondary school, it might’ve been two or three years since you’ve had to make new friends. Maybe you don’t even remember how your closest friends became your closest friends. Whatever the case may be, tagging them in memes and looking at their Snapchat story just isn’t a substitute for real human interaction, so reluctantly, even the most mildly awkward of us will have to put ourselves out there.

It’s funny how relationships form during the first few weeks of university. Some don’t make it through the initial test as they shake your hand and tell you they’re from Chippenham and you have to nod and pretend you know where that is. Some seem to be just fine until they say the fatal words ‘Oh I live in Quads’ and you can’t look the poor guy in the eye because now you’re just in it for a beanbag. Most don’t turn out to be lifelong friendships you expect to make at university, so if you’re a bit disappointed that your life isn’t like a scene out of Friends, don’t fret.

Once Freshers’ Week is over, you’ll realise that it wasn’t such a painfully awkward experience after all. Maybe it’s rose-tinted glasses. Maybe it’s the fact you actually have lectures now (like whaaat?). It might even be, god forbid, because it was actually quite fun and everyone was in the exact same terrifying, unfamiliar situation as you.

 

HPC Supply-Chain Innovation Placement Blog - 3

  

📥  School of Management

Bienvenu à Paris

This blog tells all about my 5-month Expat Traineeship in Paris with EDF. From integrating into Parisian life in and outside the workplace, travelling around France with EDF and attempting to learn French, it truly was an experience that I’d recommend to anyone.

(A photo I took in Jardin du Luxembourg, my French colleagues weren’t very impressed)

Immediately after moving in to my apartment in the 6th arrondissement (Saint-Germain-Des-Pres), I felt at ease. The flat provided by EDF was perfect, and the location even better, right in the historical centre of Paris.  My first day at work started the following week, allowing me time to get acquainted with Paris. As I already had three English friends from the University of Bath living just down the road, Parisian life got off to a great start. During my first week in the office I was introduced to my mentor and team, briefed on my responsibilities and was given a free pass to EDF’s excellent canteen. I soon became good friends with the six other interns in my department, who I still keep in contact with today. The majority of people spoke excellent English; however, in a group situation, over a long lunch break for example, it become clear that English wouldn’t be spoken. At first that was daunting, however it was a blessing in disguise, forcing me to speak French from day one. Not long after I arrived, the department manager invited me along on their annual trip, which this year involved a two day visit to Normandy.

 

(We had a day rally in classic Citroen cars around Normandy during our annual department trip away)

What sort of work was I doing?

During my time in Paris I was placed in EDF’s Procurement Division (DAPI) in the Procurement Department for Nuclear Engineering working on the Hinkley Point C and Flamanville 3 projects. Luckily, the majority of the work was in English, but the team made every effort to help improve my French when possible, to compliment my 4 hours private French lessons per week. Our team was responsible for managing the procurement process with the suppliers. My main day-to-day tasks were: liaising with suppliers, report documentation of the procurement process, constructing the commercial appendices for the FIDIC contracts and supplier commercial bid analysis. In my final week I was given the opportunity to present my teams procurement paper (in English!) to the HPC Board of Directors. I was nervous, but my attempt gained unanimous approval.

Flamanville 3 site visit

The highlight of my working life at EDF was a trip to Flamanville 3 (FA3). FA3 is the design used for HPC, but only 1 unit is being built at FA3. It is nearing its commissioning phase so the majority of the site looks and is complete. It’s now just a case of putting it all together (maybe I oversimplified that a little). After an overnight stop in Cherbourg, I had an unrestricted 3-hour tour with a very knowledgeable engineering colleague (albeit in French). The highlights for me were seeing the automated control room running tests around the nuclear power station and standing at the very top of the nuclear dome, observing billions of Euros of equipment and millions of man-hours of work. It truly is an astonishing sight, the scale and complexity is overwhelming.

 

(My mentor and I standing at the vantage point for the FA3 reactor)

My 5-months working for EDF in Paris couldn’t have more interesting or challenging. I made some lasting connections, started to learn a new language, explored an incredible city/country and developed my professional and technical competencies. My final blog will be about transitioning back to university life as a final year student, au revoir!