Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Moving into and being in Student Accommodation - Westwood

  

📥  First year, Jemima (Pharmacy)

So the point arrives, you have got into uni and found out which flat you are in. Your mind is filled with ideas- What will it be like? How many people will be in my flat? Will they steal my food? How many people will be sharing a toilet? Well at least these questions were going around my brain- I was equally excited and terrified!

It all started in April when I applied for accommodation: I didn’t know what to choose so went for the second cheapest sink-shared bathroom- Westwood. When applying you put your accommodation choices in order of preference, but you wont get allocated a room until after you have a confirmed place which for me was in late August. On Facebook, there are normally groups set up for each accommodation bock and/or flat. Quickly a group chat for my flat emerged, which was great because we got to talk and begin to get to know each other for almost a month before arriving at uni.

I moved in on Sunday 25th of September, my boyfriend’s birthday, so while I was happy to go to uni I was sad to miss his birthday! Some people had already moved in the day before and had got to know each other a bit and updated us all in our group chat on what it was like. I arrived at Bath in the car with my family and was directed to where to park to pick up my keys. There were lots of helpful people wearing t shirts to tell us where to go- I picked up my key and then we drove around to temporarily park by the building to unload my belongings. I dumped my stuff in my room and then my family and I drove into town to get some lunch- it was so busy everywhere we ended up going to Gourmet Burger Kitchen which was great (although they gave me a children’s menu that said for under 12s on it!)

After lunch we went to do a little Tesco shop to make sure I had all the essential food items (make sure you take advantage of this and maybe create a list before hand so you can get the most food possible while you have your parents to potentially pay or at least help you carry all the shopping!) Then the time came for my family to leave and for me to unpack!

My bed

My bed

Once my family had left I realised that I was supposed to be in a talk- I found someone else from my flat and we tried to find the lecture theatre and get in late but in the end were too late for it to be acceptable! We then found out they were holding one the next day for people who had missed it! For Freshers' Week there were wristbands, bought in advance, for the events going on and so we went with another boy from my flat to pick them up and wander around campus which was nice. We then went back and unpacked, and met more of my new flatmates. It seemed like we all knew each other well straight away!

Over the next week we all became friends really quickly. Everyone is in the same situation- they have just come to uni, and want to make friends! Therefore, people are friendly! Bath seems to attract decent people of all backgrounds and personalities so you are bound to fit in! There are about 20 people in my flat in Westwood and this is great because there are always loads of people to get on with and it means you know more people and gain instant friends! Within a week, I think I was closer to many people in my flat than I am with many of my friends I have known for years because you can spend so much time together if you want to! We all socialise in one of the kitchens so we know where to go if we want to chat and see people.

Our kitchen

Our kitchen

I felt so at home so quickly, we all just felt we knew each other and fitted in straight away. So, if you are worried about being lonely or missing your family or friends, don't be! Obviously, it is still nice to message and Skype people back home but you don’t need to talk all the time and probably won't as you will be busy with your flatmates!

View out of my window

View out of my window

Westwood for me is great! It has a good sense of atmosphere and comradery. Everyone seems to be easy to get along with and the advantage is that there are loads of other people in the same block, so loads of people to meet! We have about 100 people in our block. Our flats are arranged horizontally with around 20 people living along a long corridor on the same floor, while some other flats are vertical 'houses'. We have two big and one small kitchen, four toilets and five showers which seems like plenty- there has never been a problem with them being taken when needed. While the communal corridor is a bit nondescript, inside the rooms are nice especially once personalised. A great app to help with decorating a room is free prints- you can get free pictures printed from your phone to put up in your room.

Pictures on my wall

Pictures on my wall

Overall I have found student accommodation to be great. I think that you miss home a lot less than expected because at first it is new and exciting and then it just feels like home and your flatmates are like family! Our flat is even planning on living together next year as two houses! It is also so convenient as you are right near the lecture theatres, and so you can get out of bed at 9 for a 9:15 lecture (with a bit of a rush!). Westwood is really good and I am glad I chose it- if you are thinking about Bath accommodation I’d say go with Westwood as it is one of the cheapest and most central accommodation options, there are loads of opportunities to meet people, and it is being redecorated for next year (at least our corridor is!)

 

Getting into the flow: essays, reports, and the struggle to concentrate

  

📥  First year, Karolina (Psychology)

I am in my 6th week of university. One assessed essay behind me, two reports due next week, two group presentations to perform, more assessments to come and unfortunately, I’d say I have not yet got into the flow of work. It’s difficult, here at university, to get anything done. Whenever you manage to sit yourself at your desk with the laptop open on an empty Word document, and begin typing, someone is bound to knock on your door asking for a chat. How can I say no? It’s rude; isn’t it?

Psychology is a demanding subject. Unlike other sciences at Bath, 70% of the assessments are coursework which makes for a productive year and a lovely, relaxing exam season. I’m not used to this. After dropping AS Drama at the end of year 12, I only had two pieces of coursework to complete. One for Biology and one for Chemistry. This meant the effort I put into studying was a bit unevenly distributed. Have a look at this chart I drew while procrastinating the next paragraph of this blog post:

My year 13 'effort over time' graph

My year 13 'effort over time' graph

As you can see, my studying habits (if they can be called habits at all) are a bit inconsistent. I work when I need to work, but this isn’t sustainable! The amount of coursework I need to complete means that I need to be working all the time and not just three times a year. It’s time for a change.

After spending a good half an hour googling “How to be more productive?”, “How to stop procrastinating?”, and “Why am I so god damn lazy?” I reached the conclusion that googling the answers to my issue was counterproductive, and was only contributing to the problem. What I had to do was block out all distractions and just get on with it. I locked the door and then, after a second thought, I unlocked it again because I figured out the key to stopping my pestering house mates. After some scribbling and taping, I stood in awe of my solution. All I needed this entire time was a sign:

My sign to deter potential distractors

My sign to deter potential distractors

My house mates, of course, decided to deface it:

My sign, defaced by flatmates

My sign, defaced by flatmates

Nevertheless, my plan worked. I was left alone to do work. Great. With my ear phones in, blocking any outside noises, a jug of water by my side (because hydration is key) and a new determination to just get on with it, I got more done in an hour that I got done all week. I realized the secret to productivity was never a secret. Get on with it. “Just do it.” like Nike says. After a while, just doing it, will become your habit and after it becomes your habit, it’ll only get easier.
The only issue left was the issue of distractions. Sign or no sign, sometimes my house is impossible to work in. The temptation to go downstairs to goof around is a little bit too strong. Those days I need a plan B or a plan B, C and D, so I can mix it up and prevent studying from getting too boring.

Plan B

The Lime Tree – The Lime tree is a bar, café and food court. It’ll be great if I want to study right through lunch and dinner times but might become a bit of an issue if I ever need to hand in written work. I doubt lecturers take too well to food stained coursework.

Plan C

Local cafés – Bath is a national heritage site. Its continuous stream of tourists means there’s many local cafés perfect for some filmesque studying. I recommend buying one coffee and staying for the entire day, no matter how busy the place gets! I hear staff love this but, ideally, find cafés out of the way that you know won’t get too busy and enjoy the quiet that usually accompanies them.

Plan D

Lastly, here comes the dreaded plan D. This is where I’ll come when all other options fail me, when the food stains on my coursework build up into full course dinners, when the owner of every Bath café runs me out of their establishment and I am left with only one option… The Library. Studying there can’t be that bad. Can it? I mean, I see people coming in and out of there all the time… They don’t look like they’ve been permanently traumatized by some event there. No sign saying “NERD” ever develops on anyone’s face. Maybe I too, could become a library goer. Only time will tell. Right now, the sign is enough.

Working out how I’m going to avoid my house mates during crunch time and deciding to start getting on with things has already made me more productive. The elaborate techniques the articles I searched for on Google suggested may be helpful to those already doing their work but when you’re having issues getting started, reading them only wastes more time. Next time I’m sat staring at an empty word document, I’ll know to just start typing. After all, I’ve already made my sign.

 

Freshers' Week: making friends, joining societies and settling in

  

📥  First year, Karolina (Psychology)

Freshers' Week: Day 1

Freshers' Week: Day 1

The above picture is of me and my house mates, on the first day of Freshers' Week. If we seem a little too close for comfort for a bunch of strangers,  that’s because we weren’t!

The Saturday and Sunday of the moving in weekend gave us plenty of time to bond with each other before we were thrust into the torrent of Freshers events. Zoe, our Freshers Crew Member, popped in during our very first uni evening before there was a chance for any of us to feel alone. She made us all introduce each other and took away the pressure that usually comes with meeting people in such artificial socialising environment. Soon enough we were playing Ring of Fire around the kitchen table and already, the tearful goodbyes said the same afternoon, seemed to fade into oblivion. What happened next? Well, it’s a bit of a blur.

The t-shirt colours of the different accommodation sites were everywhere. Our Eastwood green tops made sure anyone living anywhere near us had an instant conversation starter, “Which house are you from?” followed by a, “That’s far…” or a “Oh my God, we’re neighbours!”. It was that easy.

You might be wondering what the drinking culture is like on campus. Although Bath does not fall short of other universities when it comes to nightlife (we like our parties just as much as the next university), there is a system in place that ensures the safety of students, especially during Fresher’s Week. The various crew members dotted around campus were working around the clock to make sure everyone got home safe after the boozy nights of Fresher’s.

But is Fresher’s week only for drinkers? What about the students that would rather abstain from the sometimes dangerous effects of alcohol? To get the answer to that you’d have to ask my friend Josh, who didn’t drink one unit of alcohol all week. He got involved in all the drinking games using a can of Coca Cola and went to the night events completely sober. Did he have fun? You’d really have to ask him, but he looked like he was enjoying himself from where I was dancing.

Whether you were waking up bright and early or sometime around 1pm with a banging headache, there was something on for you, with a never ending stream of activities. My house mates kept coming back with news of the various clubs and societies. Some of these tasters were enjoyed and others inspired vows of never trying the sport/society ever again, yet, whether the taster was your cup of tea or tea just wasn’t up your alley, there was never any harm in giving whatever it was a go. There was never any pressure to come back, yet upon singing up, everyone was welcomed with open arms.

Personally, I decided to join the Amnesty International, surfing, Psychology and the Art societies. I’ve never had any previous experience with any of these things but I figured: first year is meant to be the easiest, so if I don’t try all these things now when will I? Each year, the work will only get harder, as it always has, and the time I have spare for discovering what I like, love and am truly passionate about will decrease with the increasing work load. “Carpe Diem” – It’s time to seize the day! Or in this case, seize the whole first year and all the opportunities being thrown my way at the moment.

Bath University is bursting with opportunities. There is always something on. Whether it’s day or night, if you want to stay busy, all you have to do is step outside your door and make that miniscule initial effort. Making friends is a given. Everyone here is in the same boat, especially during the first few weeks, during which your circle will most likely not extend much past the people you share your kitchen with on a daily basis. Sometimes all you need to do is say “hi”, start a conversation about the lecture and swap Facebook details.

So far, Bath has been wonderful. My initial doubts whether it was the right Uni for me have been dissolved by the stream of activities and the hilarious people I’m surrounded by in my house. Will it get worse or better from here? I’m not sure, but I hope that my blog posts will help you in deciding which Uni is right for you.

 

Moving in and Fresher's Week: My advice

  

📥  First year, Mia (Business Administration)

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

Finally here in Bath!

Finally here in Bath!

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

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

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

Exploring campus with my mum

Exploring campus with my mum

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

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

Freshers' Week: Jungle night...

Freshers' Week: Jungle night...

... and Toga night!

... and Toga night!

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

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

 

Freshers Week 2016!!

  

📥  Jemima (Pharmacy)

Sunday: I arrived with my family a nervous little 18-year-old, some of my flatmates had moved in the day before so I was eager to meet them. Once we had dumped my stuff, we headed off into town to get some lunch and shopping. We went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen which was delicious, although I got given a children’s menu! We popped to a Tesco express which didn’t have much choice so was not the best place to go! (Handy Tip- Head to the big Sainsbury’s in Greenpark, which apparently has big pizza’s for 90p!). My parents left and slowly I met people as they arrived back at the flat, as they had been stuck in town, due to buses being delayed and cancelled.

Everyone in my flat seemed really friendly and we soon congregated in the East kitchen and got around to pre drinks as a flat with Faye our crew member, another pharmacy student (2nd Year). We learnt a lot about each other, playing’ never have I ever’ and the game where you have to guess if a statement someone says is a lie. We went to the Claverton Rooms for a very hot but enjoyable couple of hours of dancing.

Generally mid-week: There were many induction talks and lectures, we found out and met our tutors, met our peer mentors, who are students in older years that we can ask questions to, found out more about certain elements of the course and about using the library and course specific activities such as lab coat and safety spec fittings on the Wednesday! On the Monday there as a welcome speech by the Vice Chancellor to everyone split by accommodation and then sketch like information which was quite funny. On Thursday afternoon in the pharmacy department there was a group activity making something science/pharmacy related out of recycling and my team won! We made some safety specs, a jellyfish, some DNA with Watson and Crick, a box of tablets, a syringe and a lab coat!

'Our' DNA

'Our' DNA

Then afterwards they gave us Domino’s pizza and drinks which was so good- as a Fresher you learn to take advantage of free food! The same night the Christian union ran a free BBQ which was great but it meant I got double free food! There were also quite a few fair type things advertising sports, societies and local businesses which was cool like I won a voucher for a free main meal at Wagamama.

The Evenings!

Monday: The theme was show your colours, we all got a t-shirt dependent on what accommodation we were in, which were different colours. The main event was so busy; it was so buzzing! There was a lot of inter-flat rivalry and chanting, which was pretty entertaining (big up Wolfson). The music for the night was the chip shop boys who did some classic tunes.

Tuesday: The theme was Welcome to the Jungle and I was a tiger, the Midnight Beast played and it was super good. There were lots of animals, that night there were slightly less people so in my personal opinion it was better as it was a bit less squished. My flatmate Alice and I met these really cool security guys, we chatted to one for a while and the other was dancing!

Tiger time

Tiger time

Wednesday: The theme was Bath time, which most people did struggle to dress for I wore a blue denim dress because water is kind of blue with a little yellow top to go with the minimalist theme and a blue wave on the side of my head.

Thursday: Neon Night! This was cool, I got purple/pink neon glitter hairspray and wore my brightest colour clothes, with bright yellow face paint dots. The music was DJ Kristian Nairn from Game of Thrones (Hodor!), then Danny Howard.

My flatmates

My flatmates

Friday: theme was ‘When I grow up’, which I found hard as I wasn’t sure what to do, in the end I bought some angel wings and was an angel. Other people were things like a policeman or a nun! The music was the Hoosiers and George Shelley.

Saturday: Toga Night! It was a case of grab a bed sheet and a load of safety pins! One of my flatmates fell over in the main event where Greg James and Beat a Maxx were. We had to take her out to the water tent for a while and we were all freezing in our little togas! Greg James was so good he was definitely my favourite DJ of the week.

 

Becoming a member of the mountaineering society

  

📥  First year, Rob (Physics)

Team sports have never been my thing. I used to play football casually with friends at school but haven’t ever developed a sporting career as such. I assumed that although Bath is well known worldwide for its sport community I wouldn’t be particularly involved. However, I soon changed my mind at the Freshers' Week sports fair. I have always enjoyed mountain climbing and spent a lot of time when I was younger in the lake district, and much to my excitement I saw a stall for the Bath University Mountaineering Society!

I think this shows how diverse the communities here are. Anything you enjoy you can probably do at Bath through a society or sports club. A friend of mine is playing Basketball for the Uni’s first team and one of my flatmates is a member of Cue sports (pool, snooker etc.). There’s a club for everyone here, and I certainly found mine!

The freshers trip was about a month after term started. The drive to North Wales was longer than I thought- about six hours! This gave me and everyone else on the trip a great chance to get to know each other better. There were about forty people away in total and over the course of the weekend I made a few good friends. There were even a couple of people from my course. Interestingly there were a lot of PhD students on the trip which let me gain some insight into where I could take my undergraduate study.

We were lucky enough to have a little break in rain, a miracle for a walking trip to Wales!

We were lucky enough to have a little break in rain, a miracle for a walking trip to Wales!

It was good to meet these people but the main thing I was there for was the walking itself. The club gave options to suit everyone’s preferences. They ran two climbs and two walks on each day of the trip. I haven’t got any climbing experience (yet!) so I walked on both days. On the Saturday we summited Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, via the most common route -a path called the Pyg Track. The next day we climbed another mountain up a path known as “The Devil’s Staircase”. Both were interesting and not particularly technical walks which gave me a great opportunity to take in the views. I think the best way to show this off is in pictures!

Some of my favourite views we saw on our walks:

A wooden gate set into well-built drystone wall; a typical feature of Snowdonia’s landscape

A wooden gate set into well-built drystone wall; a typical feature of Snowdonia’s landscape

This little guys was one of three mountain goats we saw having a late lunch on the way down. I think a few of us were worried about the size of the horns on this one!

This little guys was one of three mountain goats we saw having a late lunch on the way down. I think a few of us were worried about the size of the horns on this one!

A great view of a mountain lake and the peaks of Snowdonia in the distance. This was taken descending the Pyg Track after a long and rainy climb

A great view of a mountain lake and the peaks of Snowdonia in the distance. This was taken descending the Pyg Track after a long and rainy climb

A collection of us at the top of the Devil’s Staircase!  This turned out to be one of my favourite hikes I’ve ever done due to the variety of terrains

A collection of us at the top of the Devil’s Staircase!  This turned out to be one of my favourite hikes I’ve ever done due to the variety of terrains

We stayed the night in a mountain hut at the edge of the national park. The club made a meal of chilli con carne with rice on the first night and a big cooked breakfast the next morning. This was all included in the price of the weekend!

As well as weekend trips the club runs cheap day trips to close mountain ranges and national parks. This weekend I was in Dartmoor and I’m off to the Brecon Beacons next week! The peaks of Dartmoor are referred to as tors. Tors are slightly too big to be called hills but not quite mountains. They typically are around 450-500m. We spent the Saturday climbing five of these short peaks in a circular route which took about six hours in total.

Dartmoor is a completely different landscape to Snowdonia. It is a bleak place and you can see extremely far in any given direction:

We had to jump a fence to find the right path…

We had to jump a fence to find the right path…

…and we did manage to get confused a few times along the way…

…and we did manage to get confused a few times along the way…

…but you can see why with such confusingly bleak terrain! Beautiful, but bleak

…but you can see why with such confusingly bleak terrain! Beautiful, but bleak

We finished up that day with tea and scones in a little tearoom by a log fire! Exactly what was needed as it was barely above freezing.

The mountaineering society also has a dedicated climbing branch which I haven’t yet delved into. I hope to after Christmas! I didn’t think I’d lucky enough to find a society so suited to my interests. To that end, I think that even if your thing isn’t mountaineering there’s a club here for everyone! From chess to pole-dancing, skydiving to judo, Bath has you covered!

 

Physics: transitioning from A-level to studying a degree

  

📥  First year, Rob (Physics)

Making the transition from A-level to degree level physics can sound like a daunting prospect. For a start, choosing any subject on a full-time basis is a big decision. When I was applying for a physics course I had a great deal of concerns and unanswered questions. Would I cope with such a large workload? How can I be sure it’s the course for me? What does higher level physics do differently to A-level?

Here’s the good news: if you’re considering applying for a degree at Bath then you’ve almost certainly got it in you to comprehend and excel in the material taught. This teaching has been given in lectures, which are noticeably different in style to sixth form lessons. For a start, each lecture is given to the entire first year at once (160 people this year) in a variety of buildings across campus. Luckily they’re all very close to each other as Bath’s campus is nice and compact.

Our lecture theatre filling with students

Our lecture theatre filling with students...

…and our properties of matter lecturer, Dan Wolverson

…and our properties of matter lecturer, Dan Wolverson

To give you an idea of how the course is arranged I’ve listed below the first semester modules and a brief description of their contents. A semester is slightly different to a term; a semester describes a period of modules that end in an exam season.

  • Properties of Matter – This unit feels a little like the physical side of chemistry, looking at the phases of matter and the physical laws that govern them. Think ideal gases, ionic lattices etc. The second half of the unit is solely about thermodynamics.
  • Electrical Circuits – What you’d expect. Reviewing things like Kirchov’s laws, Ohm’s law and capacitors whilst introducing a wide range of new components like inductors and operational amplifiers. The unit also streamlines circuit analysis with an array of new tools.
  • Classical Mechanics – Takes the “suvat” style mechanics for constant acceleration and velocity systems and introduces tools to apply them in systems with varying parameters. Also contains rockets, which have been the highlight for me so far!
  • Vibrations, Waves and Optics – examines simple harmonic motion mathematically, including for damped and forced oscillations. This unit deals with travelling waves and how they can be combined and introduces the physics of light.

As well as these core units, the first semester includes assessed modules in experimental physics and computing and mathematics for physicists. I was worried about the difficulty of the maths involved, having not taken a Further Maths A-level. I was concerned that the course would assume knowledge outside of my scope; this isn’t the case and all further material has been taught from the ground up.

Lab sessions of undergraduate physics are familiar yet a lot more in depth and rewarding than at A-level. I have recently completed my semester one lab sessions- over the course of four three hour periods we were given a piece of unknown science to interpret. The title of the task was “measuring specific heat ratio for gases using a resonance method”. This was an initially confusing piece of work but after a little research and a few hours of discussion me and my partner were taking measurements to plot data from an area of science we’d never had any exposure to before.

I wasn’t sure if I would cope with the pace of the course before joining. Honestly, from what I’ve experienced so far the work is very fast paced, but the modules are very intertwined and support each other well. I can’t stress how important is it to keep organised! Organisation will be a big thing in keeping up with the pace of the course.

A tidy desk is a tidy mind, so they say. Uni has made me very aware of this.

A tidy desk is a tidy mind, so they say. Uni has made me very aware of this.

In addition to my physics course I’ve also been managing to maintain an optional Spanish module and a very full social life. Exceeding at university does require a lot of dedication, granted, and my life has become busy, but that’s half the fun! If you think of going half-heartedly into physics it will seem like an uphill struggle; remember that you’ll be doing it for the next three years. If you enjoy physics at A-level then you’ll enjoy it many times more as a degree!

Is there anything you should think about before starting a physics course? If you’re passionate and ready for a challenge, it’ll be the time of your life. University begins to introduce compelling branches of physics, such as quantum mechanics and relativity, granting changes of perspective on the subject that only a degree can give. Physics is a subject for the curious, and that’s even more true at undergraduate level.

I guess the moral of this story is that although physics is a specialised area that requires dedication and lots of hard work, it’s manageable, achievable and extremely rewarding. The learning curve is steep, but if you’re applying for a Bath physics course and you have the passion needed then I say go for it!

 

First few days at University

  

📥  First year, Rob (Physics)

On a sunny day in late September I lugged my penultimate boxes up the final flight of stairs to room number 8. I slid the key in the lock, almost falling through the door with excitement. I ran to the window and checked out the view. I introduced myself to Jake, consciously aware that we’d spend the next ten months as neighbours. It was surreal but equally exciting. Our exchange was over as quickly as it began and we both returned to our unpacking duties and our respective families. I headed into Bath for one last wander with my parents.

We strolled through Bath absorbed by its history and architecture, trying to take it all in. Bath is the UK’s only city classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it doesn’t take much to see why. All of the wandering led our weary legs to Nandos (handily located right by Bath Spa station) for a well-earned and emotional meal. It hit me how much I’d miss my family, especially Mum. After eating we shared a couple of tears and multiple hugs. My stepdad took an obligatory Facebook photo for Mum and they then drove home. A U1 bus came after a few minutes of waiting and I hopped on.

 I know mum was choking back tears for this one…Maybe look at the lovely view behind us instead?


I know mum was choking back tears for this one…Maybe look at the lovely view behind us instead?

I caught the bus back to campus- the ten-minute uphill journey gave me a sweeping vista of my new home, hundreds of sandy houses set on rolling green hills, dyed golden by sunset. My thoughts could do nothing but race: would I fit in with my housemates, how would I cope with such a big workload, and would I have enough money for food AND beer? The more pressing matter was where to get off the bus! I had a quick conversation with a pair of students who turned out to also be Freshers’ worrying about the same thing. We talked about our respective courses and a second year student overheard us, giving us directions from the bus stop- it was comforting to know that I’d be living in such a friendly and approachable student community.

How did I ever worry about getting on with these lovely people?

How did I ever worry about getting on with these lovely people?

The next step in my settling in was surprisingly overwhelming. I worried more and more the closer I came to reaching Eastwood (my new home on campus). The people I were about to meet were potentially lifelong friends, and that’s a pressure due to affect anyone and everyone. Any worries that I had going into this first night of university faded as quickly as they came. I first started to chat, asking for my housemate’s names, courses, and where they came from. It turned out that my flat was full of diversity. I met Francesco from Italy, Jake from Hong Kong, and Richard who grew up a fifteen-minute train journey from me! My next door neighbour, Josh, was a physics student, meaning I’d have a study buddy for the year. As the evening went on I found that we’d be a melting pot of academia, from sports science to international relations. And after the formalities and introductions we began to relax little by little; after an hour or so we were laughing and drinking, trading stories from home as well expectations looking ahead. I didn’t even realise how relaxed I’d become.

I also managed to do a spot of redecorating…not bad for my first go?

I also managed to do a spot of redecorating…not bad for my first go?

The days after this came thick and fast as I became more absorbed in this strange new home. Coming from a small town I felt overjoyed to be surrounded by such a young, vibrant and altogether liberal population of students. It seemed that countless possibilities were opening up for me. This was confirmed with a week of daytime events showing off the University’s sports clubs, societies and facilities. I have in just one week signed up for optional Spanish units, joined the mountaineering club and got this job as a student blogger. The student’s union put on a great selection of acts and themed nights to facilitate this. My personal highlights were the silent disco and Saturday’s Toga Night, but what really shone through were the people I’d spent my week with.

It felt good to be dropped in at the deep end this week.

It felt good to be dropped in at the deep end this week.

Now I’m midway through my first week of lectures. A new mindset has taken over, as I am readying myself to learn as much as I can about my subject. This isn’t to say that it has stopped being fun; all of my lectures so far have been engrossing. It’s what I expected from such a well renowned institute as the University of Bath. Lectures aside, I’m looking ahead to a trip to North Wales with the Mountaineering Society (only two weeks from now). I’m regularly stuck in fits of laughter with housemates that were strangers just ten days ago. All of my worries have been answered and I feel ecstatic about what’s to come.

 

Freshers' Week: new home, new friends, and lots to do

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

I, unlike many of my friends and much to my parents’ disappointment, was not enthusiastic about coming to Uni. Not at all. In fact, as my family’s car turned round a corner and the iconic “Welcome to Bath University” sign came into view I started to beg my dad to turn around. He refused, but as we unpacked my stuff, as I arranged it in my room, as I smiled nervously at my flat mates etc. etc. I did so with the intention of getting back into the car with my parents and going home that evening. Which I kept telling my mum, who I could see getting increasingly nervous at the prospect. After already having a year out I think she was starting to panic that they would never get rid of me. But now, less than 2 weeks in, they’re going to be begging me to come home. No exaggeration. I’m more surprised than anyone but I really, really like it here, and by about a week in I started to notice myself referring to my little Norwood flat as ‘home’.

My new home in Norwood House

My new home in Norwood House

If you don’t have the pre-uni “what if no one likes me” fear then you’re some kind of social wizard. I was not actually worried that I would make no friends, oh no; I was just 100% certain that I wouldn’t. I started to think I might not even try; 4 years with no human contact was surely achievable. But within a couple of hours of arriving I realised to my horror that in order to obtain the food my mum had put into the kitchen cupboards I would have to leave my room. And with leaving my room came actual interaction with people. People I didn’t know. Within about 5 minutes my appetite had won. It didn’t get off to the best start; as I joined my flat mates in the kitchen and everyone shared their room number I misheard and thought we were saying our ages… I couldn’t work out why no one was reacting to the fact that one of my flat mates was 12. Classic me. But once I’d cleared up this misunderstanding everything was good.

Everyone was really, really nice. This came as a bit of a shock to be honest- I’d been certain that my housemates were probably a group of sociopaths who’d already started planning how they could ruin my life. But hey, no signs of that yet. I did discover that my entire flat had been communicating on a Facebook group chat for the last few months which I had somehow manage to miss (not quite the social media whizz I thought I was) and I was momentarily panicked that they would therefore all be best friends. As it happened, whilst a nice tool to prevent fear before you leave home, those Facebook group chats don’t really affect your uni experience, so don’t get too caught up in them. People are so different in person that you might get completely the wrong impression of them from social media, just wait to meet them!

Meeting some new faces during Freshers' Week

Meeting some new faces during Freshers' Week

Freshers’ Week was such an experience. I’d heard mixed things from friends; that it was all a bit overrated, that you got bored after a couple of nights etc. etc. but I ended up loving it! My health did not- I am typing this with a tissue wedged up my nose because I cannot deal with how much it’s running. Anyone passing Norwood please chuck me a lemsip. But anyway, Bath put on so many amazing events that whatever you’re into there was something to do. There was free pizza and board games night with other people from your course, a silent disco, dressing up in a toga and even the likes of Greg James and Russell Howard (which I missed and may never get over- I did see 3 Ainsley Harriotts though so can’t complain) and those are just a teeny tiny selection of what was on.

It was a brilliant week and there is no better way to bond with your flat mates and the other people in your building than over a game of ‘never have I ever’ or going out for a hungover brunch.

Brunch

Brunch: the perfect hangover cure

 

The social side of a PhD

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

Being a PhD student is time consuming, but this does not have to mean that you spend all your time working. In fact, I think it’s very important to socialise with other people, as it can otherwise become very intense! Things like getting a group of people together to go to the Parade can give you the extra motivation to get things done when you’re struggling, and even things like going out of the office for lunch with a few people will give you an opportunity to step away briefly, to come back refreshed. It’s important not to get too caught up in the PhD, I think…

One thing I appreciate about being here is that there are social events for postgrad's, students and staff in our department. From September induction week, Halloween party, Christmas dinner, international food evening and the Cider and Ale festival, to something as small as Friday coffee mornings, it’s always nice to have a chance to socialise with other people in the department. These are organised by PGBio, which is basically a group of us postgrad’s in the department, and something I’ve been involved in since the beginning of my time here. Being in PGBio has given me the opportunity to “work” with people outside my lab, while also meeting others in the department – being away from the main B&B building, I don’t see many of the other fellow PhD students usually!

These events are usually open to staff too, and we do get some postdocs coming along. This is a great opportunity to get some advice! – From advice about an experiment that you’re struggling with, what you should be aiming to achieve during your PhD (such as; applying for travel grants, publishing, experiencing as many techniques as possible) to how they approached writing their thesis, and also finding out how they got to where they are. All this is very useful, especially as I’m coming towards the end of my PhD and am going to have to start thinking about what I want to do next.

So, if you are looking to do a PhD, make sure you take these opportunities to socialise - day to day, it can be a bit of a bubble, so I see these socials as great opportunities to escape the bubble! Not only that, but they can also be ideal places to get some advice from others; people from outside your lab will have different expertise, which may in fact be very useful!