Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Engineering placement - getting into the swing of things!

  

📥  Joseph

I am now four months into my placement (you can read all about the start of my placement here) and I am in the thick of it. I am slowly becoming more confident around my colleagues and my level of responsibility is also rising. Outside of my working day I am keeping incredibly busy and the weeks, months, and seasons are flying by faster than ever. In this blog post I will run you through my working week to try to give you an idea of what makes my placement year such a storming success.

Whilst at Bath I developed an affinity for the sport of rowing. Indeed, despite the fact that I am working 8 till 5 Monday to Friday, and am often away from home at weekends, I am still able to satisfy my desire to train on the go and even get into a crew boat from time to time. Hoorah!

Training in picturesque Devon

Training in picturesque Devon

My average working week starts at 0700 on Monday morning. After my weekly fill up at the petrol station and short commute into Plymouth I am at my desk and ready to go by 0745, as is the norm throughout the week. My working week, as a member of the engineering services team at Pipex px is always varied with a mixture of computer work- manipulating 3D models, line beam analyses, stress calculation and production of engineering drawings; as well as a variety of meetings, discussions and paperwork- much as you would expect from a busy engineering house I suppose. It goes without saying that I thoroughly enjoy my time at work and there is ample opportunity to challenge myself on a day to day basis.

What I have found to be most liberating whilst on placement is that once the office doors close and lights go off, I am free to make the most of my time outside of work, in the beautiful south-west. Moreover, my placement salary means that I am now able to afford many of the things that I could not justify on my student budget. This new-found freedom and liberation from looming university deadlines has inevitably resulted in my ‘working week’ becoming a rollercoaster of activity. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I can be found at my local rowing club training with the senior men’s team. This is a great opportunity for me to socialise with other people of my own age, away from the office environment. On Thursday evenings, I go to a local French class. At this class I have met new people and have found that it acts as a respite from my maths-heavy engineering job – a perfect way to mix up the week.

On Fridays, having finished work slightly earlier at 1600, I am almost always seated on a train to another part of the county (or in some cases, world) before 1800. I am very proud to say that I have not yet had a weekend with nothing to do. Instead I have always managed to plan an exciting activity for the weekend ahead (all in my lunch break of course). On my enhanced placement student budget I have travelled to Brussels, Geneva, London, Cheltenham, the Isle of Wight and of course, even Bath – all during my precious two-day weekends! On top of this I have been able to afford an intensive powerboat course at a Plymouth Marina – something I would never have dreamed of being able to afford before my placement year – a real treat!

Even better still, the placement team in Bath are just as supportive now as they were when I was applying for placements. I have now submitted, and received feedback on, my interim placement report – a report describing the kind of things I have been up to whilst on placement. This report not only allows for my placement supervisor to keep an eye on my projects whilst away from Bath, but also acts as a fantastic record of what exactly I have done during my whirlwind time at work! In fact, my placement supervisor, the Dean of Mechanical Engineering no less, Professor Gary Hawley, has even been to visit me at work. This was great opportunity to show the University where I am working and what I have been up to. We discussed the future, my progress and where I can look to gain even more experience in the immediate future. This visit was much more insightful than I ever expected and I am really glad that the University Placement Office makes such things obligatory.

All the while I am taking log of all of the skills that I am developing whilst on placement in my personal development record (PDR). The Bath PDR is based on the specification as required by professional bodies such as the IMechE and hence, in filling out my log, I am actually taking my first steps towards professional affiliation after I graduate – a streak of ingenuity from the Bath Placement Office yet again!

Well there we go, a whistle stop tour of my ‘normal’ week on placement at Pipex px in Plymouth. When I applied for the IMEE course at Bath I was not planning to enrol on the placement year. In the first few months of my first year I was persuaded to sign up for the placement scheme. If I have not already made it absolutely clear – how glad I am that I did make that change! As always, I will keep you posted.

 

Lessons from my first semester

  

📥  First year, Laura (Psychology)

As Christmas draws ever closer, so does the end of semester one. It’s crazy that we’ve now done a big chunk of first year, but also crazy to think that I only moved into my accommodation 9 weeks ago today. So much has happened; our ‘pull’, ‘chunder’ and quote charts on the wall have becoming increasingly full and it’s strange how much has happened in less than 3 months. Looking back, here are things that I’ve learned, and which I think are very useful insights for prospective students.

1: Start working long before your deadline

Okay, this is the same instruction you’ve been receiving since your GCSE days. I’m actually good at this, which my friends often hate. I am that person who starts the work the day it’s set. I even had the embarrassment twice this term of being the first to submit assignments, and even worse attempting to submit something before the submission page had even been made. It’s not that I work particularly well, I just like to get it done. I like to do stuff when it’s fresh in my mind, and after seeing my friends attempting all nighters and stress crying the day before a deadline throughout sixth form (and to a lesser extent this term) I just haven’t wanted the stress! Try and do a little bit of work for each deadline once a day or every few days, and it’s much less stressful the night before when you can relax without feeling guilty.

Evidently early in the semester when raspberries and fresh fruit still fitted my budget

Evidently early in the semester when raspberries and fresh fruit still fitted my budget

2: Frozen food is your friend

I was very worried about cooking at uni and thought that I’d get bored and start eating pot noodles for every meal. Whilst there are a few lurking in the flat kitchen everyone has been cooking pretty inventive (and sometimes weird) meals, and I just want to stress that frozen food is your friend. Frozen peas?! Peng. Add them to anything and it’s basically a meal. Before uni I had no idea you could buy frozen sliced peppers (perfect for fajitas) or frozen chopped onions (perfect for basically everything). It makes cooking a meal from scratch sooo much easier- I can whip up a veggie Bolognese or some fajitas in a matter of minutes without the hassle of a chopping board or the rush to use vegetables before they go mouldy (honestly the stress is real). And ice cream is also frozen and an excellent food so overall 10/10 would recommend (though I’m using way too many freezer shelves so maybe don’t go to the extreme like me).

3: Move as much as you can

Being on campus has made my view of walking very warped. I went to visit a friend in London a few weeks into term and was shocked at the prospect of a half hour walk, before realising that’s a distance I walk regularly back home. It’s crazy, because on campus everything’s within about 7 minutes of you. I describe going to big Fresh as a ‘bit of a trek’, when in reality I can’t image having a shop that close to me at home. So I try to move as much as I can to compensate. I’ll admit I’m doing less exercise than I do at home, and combined with less walking and more comfort eating this could quickly get out of hand. So my flatmates and I regularly go for night walks around campus (the stars are beautiful!) and also utilise the free Zumba classes and free Olympic sized swimming pool. At the weekends I like to do a 5k morning run around the lake. The campus is so pretty that it doesn’t feel like a chore, and all of the endorphins are great!

It's harder to find the motivation when it's -1° outside

It's harder to find the motivation when it's -1° outside

4: Uni isn’t for everyone

There’s a statistic that says something like 5% of first year students drop outof university, and on my corridor of about 25 we’ve had 2 people leave. I was really surprised, although they both had their own reasons. Having a gap year definitely helped me to know I was ready to come to university, but I had also been considering it for a very long time. It’s a big step, a change to your home environment, but everyone’s in the same boat as you which makes it much less scary. If you’re having doubts try and think what’s causing them. I was very apprehensive because I didn’t think I’d make friends, now 9 weeks in I can’t imagine my life without them. The workload may seem daunting, but I swear I’m doing less than I did at A Level... which is probably very, very wrong.

5: Get involved with as much as you can

Just do everything. I really haven’t followed my own advice here; I stopped going to one society I joined and never found the room where the meetings for the other was. Which is sad. But I do this in different ways. You might join 10 clubs, start learning a new language and start a new sport. And that’s so great, and the perfect time to do it. But I get involved with everything my flat do, always try and attend any group activity we plan or arrange one myself. I go to Zumba classes which I never would at home, and I chat to people in the lift which I would always have previously avoided. Uni is a great opportunity to start over.

Ddecorating the flat ready for christmas

Ddecorating the flat ready for christmas

6: Do your washing up

Honestly. I cannot stress this enough. Be a good flatmate. Be tidy, be thoughtful. Don’t be too loud if you know people are trying to sleep, and please, just do your washing up. It’s so grim seeing piles of dirty dishes in your kitchen where you need to cook, and you’re all in it together. If you want to be gross you can even put your dirty plates in your cupboard (honestly way too many people do this) but just wash up after you cook. It’s really not that difficult. Please!

This photo hides a lot but I think you get the impression

This photo hides a lot but I think you get the impression

7: Start planning who you want to live with

It’s crazy how early you have to start picking, but in reality when you’ve lived with people 24/7 for a couple of months you know them soooo well it’s actually not too daunting to commit to living with them. You might find that you want to live with your flat mates, some people from your course, or even a combination of the two. But start planning early. We’re looking for a house for 6 (fingers crossed we’ve got one now) and they go so quickly; to start with every time we arranged a viewing we would get a call to say it had been rented before we even had a chance to look which is annoying. But be persistent, and the earlier you start looking the more choice you will have.

8: Budget

I try and avoid looking at my account balance as much as possible because it’s just too depressing. To start with I did a lot of retail therapy and ended up having to send a lot of it back because I just didn’t have the funds. Now I avoid even looking on the clothes shop websites (this was particularly difficult on Black Friday).

The first semester is expensive (see my previous blog post on life on a student budget) and Christmas has not helped, but I’ve had to start holding back… I mean, I definitely bought smoked salmon and avocado last week, but let’s overlook that. My original budget was £50 a week and I thought I’d spend way under, but that just hasn’t happened. I need to stop buying so much food and sooo many coffees really! But after my £25 on food each week (when I say my freezer is well stocked I mean I could feed the entire block for several weeks using its content alone), one night out ish (£5 club entry+£2.50 return bus fare+ an embarrassing amount on drinks and drunk food), multiple coffees, Christmas presents and then just random things like laundry, it’s not looking good. I have started to refrain a bit, and I’ll extend this in the second semester. If you can refrain from buying rounds, and try to come up with a feasible amount to spend each week, it makes life much easier.

Normal student breakfast, right...?

Normal student breakfast, right...?

9: Chat to people on your course

This is another case of not really taking my own advice, but after making good friends in my flat I kind of didn’t bother chatting to people on my course. It wasn’t until I went to lecture without the other two girls doing psychology on my floor that I realised I didn’t really know anyone else on my course. Luckily group work has helped this and I’ve met some lovely people through that, but it wasn’t until our first course social that I properly initiated interaction. And everyone is great! I felt a bit stupid not bothering sooner, but I now have friends in both my flat and on my course which is nice. We have a group chat for the whole of the psychology course which is also great when everyone’s panicking over a deadline. Safety in numbers right?

I didn't bother finding other friends when I had all of these

I didn't bother finding other friends when I had all of these

10: Don’t go home too much

To start with the temptation is real. I missed roast dinners, beach walks and baths sooo much during the first few weeks. And a few of my flatmates did go home for the weekend really early on, but I just wouldn’t recommend it. The first few weeks are pretty poignant; you’re still getting to know each other and I just think these initial nights out and socialising are crucial. It helps you work out who you’ll probably be friends with and is just a great opportunity to make memories with people. You can’t laugh as hard at a story of a night out if you weren’t there to see it. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go home at all; I went home after 4 weeks in an attempt to recover from freshers’ flu and it worked. But I could see how it could definitely make people homesick, and if you’re feeling a bit like that I think it’s best to stick it out. Chat to your flatmates, join a new club, get involved with stuff. You’re not missing anything at home, not really, and with uni being around 30 weeks a year you’ll still be back there a lot!

So  those are my top ten tips! I’ve honestly loved my first semester despite my initial fear that I’d hate it, and I can’t wait to come back after Christmas and to live in a house with my friends next year! So if you’re feeling a little apprehensive don’t worry, and hopefully these tips will help!

Laura x

 

Adventures in Germany

  , ,

📥  Faculty of Science, Postgraduate

My research involves using an atomic force microscope (AFM) to see into the tiny world of atoms and molecules. I was lucky, then, to find out that there's a week-long summer school focussed on AFM that comes around every three years, and my first year as a PhD student happened to coincide with one of these summer school years. Since Bath Uni would pay for my travel expenses through my postgraduate budget, I'd be silly not to go.

plane-dewan-c-2

This year, the school was based in Osnabrück, Germany. Visiting Germany brought back memories from when I visited the Netherlands. Specifically, there's the issue of jaywalking. In the UK, when we see no vehicles approaching either way on a road, our tendency is to walk across. In contrast, people in places like the Netherlands and Germany only go when they see the green light. For the first few days in Germany, my rebellious British habit stayed with me. However, seeing the locals wait while I crossed the road made me feel guilty. That guilt eventually broke my habit. I felt awkward at first standing in front of a deserted road waiting for the light, but I was embracing the feeling that this was probably as close to being German as I'd get.

garden-dewan-c

Our meeting point for the summer school was at a botanical garden owned by the University of Osnabrück. It’s a beautiful sight, but temperatures soard to a high of 33 °C during my time there. The heat, combined with 90-minute long lectures (my concentration limit is barely an hour), meant that my mind turned to mush. I was keen at first, sitting in the front row, but was gradually forced to retreat to the back row in case I needed to close my eyes without many noticing. It was a good move.

lecture-dewan-c-2

Overall, I had an enjoyable time. I met experts in the field as well as other PhD students who, like me, are basically the kids of the academic community. This was the first time I saw how much enthusiasm an academic community can have for its subject. Their enthusiasm turned question sessions at the end of lectures into rich discussions and debates. I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't feel like I was melting.

So, where to next? Well, I hear there’s a winter school in France early next year... For now, I’m back to my rebellious British habit of jaywalking.

 

Living in Woodland Court

  

📥  First year, Mia (Business Administration)

Aside from applying for uni itself, applying for accommodation is the most stressful experience of uni preparation- at least it was for me! I live in Woodland Court, and thought it would be good to offer a little personal insight into my accommodation block.

First of all, the rooms in Woodland Court rooms are larger than your average room in a halls of residence.

My bedroom

My bedroom

The bedrooms are ensuite, with a sink, a toilet and a shower (which you can use all at the same time). The shower has a shower curtain so it’s more like a wet room but the water drains quickly so you don’t end up flooding the whole room. There’s also one glass shelf to place various toiletries, and a large mirror.

Bathroom

Bathroom

On the bathroom door, there is a full-length mirror and to the side of this you have an open storage unit of four shelves and a hanging rail. There is also plenty of space above the storage unit and under your bed. I recommend investing in some large boxes for these areas if you have a lot of belongings as it makes everything a lot tidier. Next to the storage unit is a corner desk with loads of space and a shelf above it. There are also three drawers underneath the desk. The walls have 8 plug sockets, two aerial cables and an ethernet plug. Then on the opposite wall, you have a small double bed with three shelves next to it and a large pin board covering one wall. The room also comes with two bins and an armchair.

My very useful (and personalised) pinboard

My very useful (and personalised) pinboard

In our block, all walls are white apart from the desk wall which is bright green, and the armchair and provided bedding is blue. I used all my own bedding just because it makes your room a bit homelier, but if you do decide to use the university provided ones you can get them exchanged every Wednesday. We get our bedroom and bathroom cleaned every six weeks but I would recommend bringing your own cleaning products if you’re a bit of a neat freak like me, as everything gets very dusty very quickly for some reason. I thought my room was a bit cold for the first week or two until I realised that my radiator wasn’t actually turned on…

My flat consists of 15 students and so we get a slightly larger kitchen to share. There’s not a lot of space in the kitchen but we get one cupboard, one fridge shelf and one freezer shelf each which just about fits my things in. There’s also an extra shelving rack that you can put a box of all your utensils on. There are two sinks, two hobs, an oven, a grill, two microwaves, a toaster and a kettle. We also have a TV, an ironing board and an iron. There is also a table and plenty of chairs to use, although it can be a bit of a squeeze at dinner time.

Communal space in our kitchen

Communal space in our kitchen

We’re on the east side of campus, pretty much as far east as you can get. Marlborough, Solsbury and Quads are our neighbours. The Parade is about a 5 minute walk, and the management building at the farthest end of the Parade (which runs through the centre of campus) is only about a ten minute walk away so everything is still pretty close. The bus stops and STV are both within 5 minutes walking distance. We have a launderette and post room in our building, and the parcel office is 5-10 minutes away.

Walking home to Woodland Court

Walking home to Woodland Court

We had a few issues with kitchen appliances breaking in our first couple of weeks, however these were sorted very quickly by our Woodland Court housekeeping team who are really helpful if you have any accommodation issues at all.

Cost-wise Woodland Court is one of the pricier options at £158 per week (2016/17 cost). I wanted an en-suite and a double room and I saved a lot of money in my gap year so I felt I was justified to spend a little more. The next alternative is the Quads which is new but rooms are smaller and you must get compulsory catering credit. Personally, I didn’t go for this option as I like cooking for myself, but it’s totally up to personal preference.

The most crucial thing about applying for accommodation is to apply the minute applications are open if you want to have the best possible change of getting your first choice. Woodland Court tends to be one of the most popular options so get in early to hopefully avoid disappointment!

 

Campus: coffee shop and study space tour

  

📥  First year, Laura (Psychology)

As a keen participant of café culture, I’ve been eager to try out the coffee shops on campus since arriving. My budget has not. But with deadlines looming I’ve been getting very bored of sitting in my room on my bed doing work, and as my coffee abilities could be compared to a toddler’s I felt something needed to be done. So, with an eager flatmate in tow (thank you Lara), I embarked on a coffee shop tour of campus.

First stop: Starbucks

I’m not a massive fan of the chain; it’s pretty expensive compared to its rivals and there was that whole avoiding taxes thing. But hey, I’m willing to forget that for a decent hot chocolate. And even better; I can get to Starbucks from my bed without going outside. What’s not to love on a cold, rainy day?!

A nice seasonal cup and I even have a word document open (which looks suspiciously blank...)

A nice seasonal cup and I even have a word document open (which looks suspiciously blank...)

Based in the SU, Starbucks is busy and vibrant. We went at about 1.30pm and there were loads of people meeting for lunch, studying with friends or utilising the pool tables. This doesn’t sound like the ideal work environment, I know, but the background noise gave it a nice buzz. We found some bar stall like seats, conveniently located by a plug, and got to work.

The drinks are much cheaper than the usual stores as we’re on campus which is nice for my purse, and I had a soya hot chocolate which was good. Would definately recommend. However; as it is so popular if you get distracted easily I’d recommend headphones if you want to study. However it’s so busy that there’s a nice atmosphere and it’s just a fun chilled-out place. As it’s located in the on-campus club it’s also entertaining to think/cringe at the thought of stupid things you’ve done on nights out where you’re now sitting studying.

Good: Prices, location, background noise
Bad: Can be difficult to get a seat

The Edge Café

The very next day we set off again. I was very excited to go to The Edge Café; I’m a big fan of independent cafes and from walking past a couple of times it looked really cute. We sat down at a big wooden table and started our work. I ordered myself a caramel latte without looking at the price list; its was 65p to add syrup to a coffee which seemed a bit extortionate to me, but hey, it was good. They have a huge cake and sandwich selection which all looked delicious, and it seems like a nice, relaxed place to work.

On my visit there was nice background music which was good to study to. My only issues were the lack of plugs (a common theme at Uni to be honest) which was a bit annoying as my friend’s laptop was running low. The big table was very useful though for spreading all my work out, and there was even a nice little plant on the table. We also sat by the door which was a bad choice as there was an annoying draught. Sorry to sound about 80, but actually when discussing it with other flatmates, they’d noticed it too.

We went at around 4.30 and it was busy but nothing like Starbucks. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood to work anyway, but I couldn’t concentrate very well because it was quiet enough that I could listen to other people’s conversations and get distracted. Definitely bring headphones. Other than that, very nice. Feels very much like you’ve left campus as it seemed to have a lot of visitors/lecturers in there having a drink which was nice.

Good: Attention to detail of decorations, food, ambience
Bad: Lack of plugs, a bit cold near the door

The Limetree

For this trip I abandoned Lara. My current deadlines involve a couple of group projects and little motivation, so my group and I arranged to meet in the Limetree in an attempt to make our work slightly more enjoyable. It’s definitely a lot nicer than meeting in one of our kitchens (wouldn’t be surprised to find a bit of old food stuck to my laptop if I risked putting it on a student halls’ kitchen table). Anyway, back to The Limetree.

I felt a bit silly taking photos of The Limetree in front of my group, but I assure you it's great!

I felt a bit silly taking photos of The Limetree in front of my group, but I assure you it's great!

limetree

Right by the bus stop, The Limetree is a big restaurant with loads of different cuisines. Whilst I’d ideally go to one of the booths to sit, the restaurant’s popularity means that I’ve had to settle for a table every time I’ve visited. Even so, I would definately recommend it. It’s bright, the tables are big and spacious and the music is good. I forgot to assess the plug situation which may have impacted on my opinion had my laptop had less battery. On Mondays to Thursdays from 8-8.30 you can take your own food container and fill it up for £2.50; our flat regularly attempt to fill the biggest containers possible in an attempt to feed ourselves for the week. I’m yet to sample the drinks but I’ve heard good things about the flat whites, which are cheaper than The Edge but don’t come with the complimentary cookie, and the bar there serves a local Bath ale, described as ‘the best beer I’ve had since I got here’.

I’m not sure what it is about it exactly, but I’m a big fan of the Limetree.

Good: Cheap food, good music, big tables
Bad: Potential lack of plugs, food is distracting

4West

After a few days without a café trip, Lara and I headed out to 4West. The weather has been awful for the last few days and after running across The Parade under her umbrella I rushed to the till to get a drink. They have a particularly impressive selection; seasonal special drinks, offering to add mocha shots to drinks etc., and I settled for a soya vanilla chai latte; one of my favourite drinks which none of our other cafes have offered. It was £2.25 so a similar price to our other visits, and as you can see had a nice Christmas cup. It wasn’t very hot though, but after working in hospitality I refuse to be the kind of person who returns a coffee to get it reheated. So, I bravely drank it anyway.

4West is very popular which has put me off visiting in the past. But it’s busy for a reason; it’s really good. We managed to grab the last table (I felt very guilty as some girl wandered around aimlessly clutching a tray of food- oops) and started our work. At this current moment my laptop is on 16%, so the plug situation here will need to be assessed. It’s not looking promising, which is a shame. Apart from that it was ticking a lot of boxes. We’ve gone for a standard table but there are loads of low ones with comfy sofas. They also offer a wide range of food with loads of options for different diets which I’m always a fan of. Service is quick and they’ve even got some Christmas lights and a tree. No background music but a similar buzz to Starbucks so you don’t need it (unless you’re sat near interesting people and can’t help listening to their conversation, then headphones would be a good idea).

Good: Menu, chair selection, Christmas deocrations
Bad: Cold drink, lack of plugs

That brings our coffee shop tour to an end. Campus does have a number of other food outlets; the Fountain Canteen and Parade Bar especially should not be ignored. However; my budget isn’t really coping with these almost daily trips which I tell myself are essential. Nowhere on campus was even near bad, and I’d recommend a visit to all for somewhere different to study. They certainly beat the silent floor of the library in my opinion, where I attempted to open a packet of dried mango and felt like I was risking being killed by the people on the computers near me. As much as I’ve enjoyed these study spaces however, bed comes with the clear advantage that you can stay in your pyjamas. Which, as term goes on, is increasingly tempting…

Laura x

 

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.