Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Out with the old, in with the new

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📥  Eman, Faculty of Science, First year

So the first semester of university is over, January exams are already long forgotten and inter-semester break felt like the most needed holiday of my life. It’s now the first week into semester two and I can already tell you that this semester is going to be very different.

Looking back at the first semester, I sort of agree with my friend who referred to it as a “trial semester”. By this I mean it was the point in university where you learn the ropes. It took time to get adjusted to “uni life” if you like, getting used to living on my own, taking control of my learning and practically having to do anything and everything by myself. Of course I haven’t forgotten about the pleasurable side to it, such as going to all the student events set up by the SU and A List event reps and just generally making the most of the social aspects of university.

The weekly students' nights at Bath's clubs and on campus organised by the A-list team

The weekly students' nights at Bath's clubs and on campus organised by the A-list team

Of course as a Fresher I wanted to go to every social event and night out, wanting to meet as many people as I could and maybe just enjoying the fact that my parents are no longer here to ask me where I’m going and when I’ll be back. Looking back, I found that it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and say yes to every night, forgetting that I’m actually doing an intense course that requires me to do a lot of independent work. But, now that I’m going into a new semester, I realise that learning to prioritise what’s important and knowing how to balance things is probably going to be a lot easier now that I’ve experienced what everyone refers to as the “uni lifestyle” (and yes, it’s actually a thing).

Show You Colours night during Fresher's Week

Show You Colours night during Fresher's Week

On the academic side of the first semester however, I do admit there are quite a few things I would do differently, the main one being the amount of work I put in the first few months. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re just at the very beginning of a 3/4 year course and that these first few months are needed to enjoy yourself first. While that’s true, I can see that keeping on top of your work from the very start and not leaving it for the “catch up” weekend that never actually comes is so much better. It saves all the stress later on when it comes to revising for your January exams, and realising that you’ve maybe never even seen some of the content before (something that I may be guilty of…)

However, because I can say that there are things I would to do differently from last semester, it makes transitioning into semester 2 much easier. I say “transitioning” as if it’s like starting university all over again, but I guess you could look at it in such a way. I mean, you’ve just finished January exams, which for me was probably the most stressful exam period I’ve experienced (thanks to having five exams (and trust me, that’s a lot at Uni), four of which were in a row in the first exam week), and having just come back from Inter-semester break, which like I mentioned before, was the most needed week off I’ve had in a while.

A copy of my January exam timetable (just look at the dates of those exams!)

A copy of my January exam timetable (just look at the dates of those exams!)

Going into semester two, you’re starting new modules in your course and are able to do things differently to how you did them in the first semester. Plus, like me, I’m pretty sure you’ll have New Year’s resolutions about how you want the rest of your first year to go, and the start of semester two is the best way to begin.

While I want to treat semester two the same as semester one by making the absolute most of my time here at university, I now also want to to make the rest of the year as easy and stress free as is possible, which I now know will require some good planning and time management in order to cope well with the demands of my course.

 

The importance of living it up and having a social life (even if you're a master’s student)

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📥  Faculty of Science, Maeva, Postgraduate

Panic.

Only four weeks into my master’s course and I can see it in the faces of my fellow peers. The moment when we ask “what have we gotten ourselves in to”? Surely choosing to do an undergraduate degree is one of the typical motions of life. Something expected. A master’s degree at one of the top universities in the country is not. The decision was pondered throughout third year or saved up for over a few years. There is no one else to blame but ourselves for thinking that an additional year of deadlines, exams and assessed public speaking would be a great idea.

We rant to our friends, vent to our personal tutor and toy with the idea of telling our parents that we have changed our minds. But it goes no further than that. The moment of panic passes. Mutual support from my peers have helped me get through the first term of my postgraduate degree.

Too often I get caught up in the daily stresses to enjoy my time at university where I am studying something I’m actually really passionate about. When that happens I know I need to slow down, take a break and grab a skinny late in the 4 West Café and dedicate all my attention to the latest gossip. Now that may not be how you like to spend time with your friends, but it is important to have a social base, even if it feels like it is unnecessary or pointless because you’re only here for a year. But a year is a very long time, regardless of how quickly it goes. Sometimes I get so worked up trying to achieve my best that I forget to take the time to breathe and appreciate all the perks student life has to offer and that will soon be gone.

As I live off campus like most master’s students, I like to make the most of my trips into uni and tend to stay for several hours. In a way it’s the best way to also maximise time with friends, as it always seems impossible to organise something off campus. We always break for lunch. By the time 12:30 rolls around we’ve had our eyes on the clock for the past hour and a half. The Calverton Rooms is our first port of call, though we have fun trying the different food venues.

After a big assessment hand-in day, my course mates and I regroup and go to the Student Union to grab a pint and try to not dwell on it too much. Though none of us are fans of pool, we do like to play ping-pong in the Plug. I think it’s really important to try and break up your day whilst on campus, and not only associate it as a place to do work. Have an annoyingly long gap between two lectures? Go to a gym class, partake in yoga or pilates. Hit the treadmill and sweat it out if it has been a really tough day.

My peers have made the most of the brilliant Graduate Centre Common Room. It’s an area in 4 West that can be used for studious work and more relaxing activities. There is a large collection of contemporary films on loan in the library, and an impromptu decision resulted in an early break from studying and watching Love Actually on the projector in the Graduate Centre in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We definitely bonded over the soppy romance and felt much better afterwards and we were able to attack our revision more positively the next day, because we had destressed.

Another thing to make sure to look out for are emails and messages on the TV screens. Yes, we do get inundated by tons of emails and half of them never seem relevant. However, sometimes there are great opportunities to have fun on and off campus. Make sure to take full advantage of those coffee mornings the PGBio society advertises weekly. Nothing says TGIF like tea and biscuits after a long hard week. It’s a great way to meet people doing different types of postgraduate degrees as I, myself, normally only see taught master’s students.

Events I went to this term include the Bath University carol service in the gorgeous Bath Abbey and the Science Showcase at The Edge and the PGBIO society Halloween party. The showcase was a particularly fun night of listening about a topic I am very familiar with, but and we can all agree a comedy cabaret is 100 times more entertaining than any lecture. I also made the time to attend the post-graduate welcome party in The Tub (top of the Student Union) at the start of term. Who says that post-graduate students can’t party and make use of those great SU prices and drink deals? Undergrads do not have monopoly on the fun in Bath. Letting my hair down and getting down with my friends quickly chases away any sense of worry. At least until the next morning.

I cannot stress enough the importance of making the most of your time. Set aside some free time for activities and socialising. All work and no play makes for a very dull student life and will quickly lead to you burning out and feeling demotivated. Your course mates or other students know exactly what you are going through and together you will go through the ups and downs of this crazy year. For the first time I consider myself an actual scientist. It has a lot to do with being surrounded by such like-minded people. Master’s are so specific and they require more passion than any previous stage of your education. The university offers numerous supporting services, but I find slowing down and chilling with friends the best remedy for most cases of the blues.

 

Bath Snowsports Ski Trip 2016

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Hannah, Second year

As you probably know by now the University of Bath has a week’s holiday (inter-semester break or ISB) at the end of semester one (September-January) in the last week of January before semester two (February-May) begins. It’s a chance to relax after exams and recharge your batteries before the second semester kicks off. You have lots of options for your ISB, last year I used it to visit some friends at their universities and I spent a couple of days in Paris with the family I au paired for in my gap year. Some people prefer to spend some more time with their families at home as you don’t get a very long break over Christmas (and most of it is spent revising) and some go on holiday with friends. One of my housemates decided to spend her ISB in the Gambia topping up her tan.

I opted for something a bit different and decided to go on the Ski Trip – organised by Bath Snowsports. This sports club is one of the biggest in Bath and each year they offer the chance to go on a ski trip. In 2016 the trip was to Val Thorens in France. Initially I wasn’t really sure if I would enjoy it, I was worried there would be more focus on the nightlife than actual skiing and before I signed onto the trip there wasn’t a huge amount of information available on what it would be like. In this post I’ve broken the trip down into 5 sections, so that if you do decided to go you’ll know more or less what you’re getting.

Three Valleys Piste Map

Three Valleys Piste Map

Travel

I will not lie to you, this is definitely the worst part of the ski trip. The journey ended up being around a 20 hour journey on the way there and a 16 hour journey on the way back (and I got off early!). However despite those travel times it’s not as bad as it sounds. We were mostly held up at Calais, as the coach takes the ferry over to France, and while we were there we could get off the coach and stretch our legs a bit. It’s also a good idea to use the bus journeys to catch up on sleep as you won’t get a lot of it on the trip! Rechargeable batteries for phone/iPods/laptops are another essential. Some people who weren’t keen on the idea of an endless coach journey, or had a placement to get back to, chose to either fly out there or back or both for around £65-£80 one way if you book in advance.

Food & Accommodation

Before you go on the trip you will have the option to sign up to a “friendship group”. You will get the coach with people from this “friendship group” and it is likely that your rooms will be close together. The size of the group can be as big or as small as you like (although there had to be a minimum of three people). This year there were 5 people per room and you sign up to rooms with the people in your friendship group.

Our great value apartment

Our great value apartment

Although the accommodation was a little cramped, one bedroom-kitchen, one toilet, one shower and another bedroom with bunkbeds, this just added to the fun of the trip and as it’s only 6 nights the size of the accommodation doesn’t really matter. Though I signed up for a self-catered apartment as they were cheaper you also have the option of partially catered if cooking really isn’t for you. Two of the people I was sharing with also chose the “bread in bed” option for an addition £7.50, and two baguettes were delivered to our door every morning, making breakfast much easier. For making meals we brought some ingredients from home (snacks, pasta, pesto etc.) but there were plenty of supermarkets in the resort. I also ate out for dinner twice as you can find fairly inexpensive meals (10-15 euro per person).

Our accommodation

Our accommodation

Skiing

Now to move on to the best part of the trip – the skiing! Whether you’re a beginner or an expert this trip caters for everyone. I went with several friends who had never skied before, some who had only dry slop skiing experience and some who had been a couple of times but still weren’t very confident and they all decided to take three days’ worth of lessons. They all agreed that the lessons were really useful and good value for money. As I’ve been several times before I decided not to have lessons this time and to make the most of my three valleys ski pass. Val Thorens is connected to two other resorts, Meribel and Courcheval (ski map below) and so we made several day trips to try out the runs there. We were incredibly lucky with the weather and had both blue skies and perfect skiing snow. The trip also offers some skiing workshops, such as off-piste skiing.

Pro skiers

Pro skiers

Après

A lot of people’s favourite part of the trip was the après-ski, or the nightlife. Bath Snowsports offer you a £12 wristband which gets you free entry into most of the bar and clubs, discounted drinks and discounts at the supermarket in our accommodation block. I would strongly recommend buying the wristband, even if you don’t plan on partying much, it helps save you a lot of money. The après was divided into three parts; a bar with a DJ up on the mountain until around 5-6pm, live music/DJ’s in one of the bars 10pm-12am and then onto a club. This meant that you can pick and choose what you want to do, if you’d rather focus on the skiing then you can choose just to go and relax in one of the bars, but you also have the option to go out and dance the night away! One event I would really recommend going to is the Mountain meal, dinner in one of the restaurants on the mountain. For £30 we were treated to beef fondue, salad, chips and half a bottle of wine, with night-skiing down afterwards.

Après on the mountain

Après on the mountain

Money

A big worry when going skiing is that it will be really pricey. While I won’t deny that the ski trip is an expensive holiday it’s still relatively cheap for going skiing. I paid around £650 (including a £50 damage deposit, wristband, mountain meal, accommodation, ski hire & lift pass). It’s also recommended that you take around 250 euros spending money for the week. However I only took 200 and I had some left over, even after eating twice in a restaurant so you can definitely manage on less.

I had a really amazing week in Val Thorens and if you’re thinking about going next year, I would really recommend it!

 

Psychology at Bath: an insight

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year, Ruth

Time for another blog and now that Semester 2 has begun I am feeling a lot more motivated and am therefore in the mood to chat about my course. I’m on the 4 year psychology course which includes a placement in my third year. So far I am loving it! My course is so interesting and the lectures are really varied and engaging.

I’m sure you’ve sensed a ‘but’… the course is quite a bit harder than I expected it to be. This maybe because I had unrealistic expectations but it is taking me a bit of time to get used to the workload and the standard of work required. I guess I did sign up for it! Thankfully the support given to us by members of staff in the department and older peers is great- I don’t know what I’d do without it! I also think coming from a state school has meant I’ve been a little less prepared for university by my teachers due to large class sizes etc. but in other ways it has been to my advantage so I can’t complain.

My favourite module so far has to be ‘Mind and Behaviour’- it is pretty much the foundation of psychology and covers everything from the history of psychology to why we dream. It’s a huge lecture as all psychology students take this module as well as students doing other degrees such Social Sciences who can take it as an optional module. This module is co-ordinated by Ian who is great, and manages to hold my attention for 2 hours which is pretty impressive! He also tries each week to tie his t-shirt into the content of the lecture which can be quite amusing.

The main course text for Psychology

The main course text for Psychology

There are some modules that I have particularly struggled with, for example research methods. I think this is probably because I prefer writing essays than scientific reports and this module is assessed via numerous lab reports. Saying this the feedback I have received each time has been extremely helpful in helping me improve so I’m getting there! This semester we are tackling a new model called ‘Quantitative Methods’. I have been really nervous about this as I am aware that it focuses on statistics and I haven’t done maths since GCSE and that feels like a long time ago. Our lecturer told us to make friends with mathematicians and I am planning on doing just that!

As part of our course we are required to pick an optional module and there’s such a great variety to choose from. Some of the options include: cell biology, a foreign language, exploring effective learning and psychological skills. I have picked the modules that make up the psychology stream (psychological skills). These have been great for me as they’ve allowed me to develop a broader knowledge of psychology and also to develop the skills needed to complete the course to the best of my ability. My flatmate, who also studies psychology, follows the neuroscience stream and therefore completed the cell biology module and she loved being able continue with biology beyond A-level.

Unfortunately all these modules have to be assessed- I sometimes forget this and have to be reminded! However, I am actually enjoying the variety of assessment methods used. For example we’ve had essays, exams, group presentations, poster presentations and online debates. Not many degree courses give you that variety!

My psychology timetable

My psychology timetable

It’s also worth a mention that our timetable is relatively quiet (around 10 contact hours a week) –much to the disgust of my flatmates who study maths! However the time we have off is needed to complete the reading we are required to do. The timetable is varied and includes lectures, seminars, lab sessions and workshops.

Overall I am really enjoying the psychology course here and with the staff, lectures and resources I am feeling very privileged to be able to study such a fascinating subject in such a great place! If you have any questions about anything to do with the course please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

The build up to applying for a placement

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph, Second year

In addition to the hectic schedule of second year engineering, it is also expected that we start to look for placements for our year in industry. For the majority of engineers at Bath, both electrical, integrated and mechanical, a year in industry is something that is really appealing. Bath is renowned for its strong placement office, and I know that both I and my colleagues chose Bath due to its strong links with industry, both in the UK and abroad.

In this blog post I hope to give you a brief description of how I’ve gone about searching for the placement that is right for me and the support offered by the university. Given the number of industries Bath has links with, as well as all of the other placements advertised worldwide, it really is a mind boggling situation and guidance is important in terms of finding the placement that is correct for you – thank goodness I’m at Bath…

At first I was very worried about the rush to secure a placement. For some reason I imagined that the list of places available would be limited and that only a lucky few would find a position, let alone a role that they suited and they were enthusiastic about. Oh dear, I could not have been more wrong. Since I signed up to the placement scheme at the end of my summer holidays I have been inundated with emails from the placement office saying that numerous new roles have been announced. Day in, day out, the emails arrive and hundreds upon hundreds of places are on offer. This immediately calmed my nerves and I was able to relax and really dig through the list of placements available to find a select few I was really interested in. This was no easy feat, but I was very glad to have too many placement opportunities to consider than too few!

I quickly learned to be very, very selective with the placements I researched. Given the sheer number of opportunities available, I was even able to choose some jobs on the basis of their location and where I’d like to live, irrespective of the role being advertised – what a luxury! For some of the bigger companies, especially those that are expecting a lot of applicants, the deadline for applying was early on in the semester and many of my course mates worked hard to get their CVs and cover letters submitted in time. For the majority of placements however, the application deadline is very relaxed and most placements do not expect applications until semester two (after the Christmas break – hoorah!).

As I opted to apply for these companies (as opposed to the bigger names in industry), I had plenty of time to put hours into researching the role and planned to write my cover letters during the Christmas break. Moreover, this time frame enabled me to really focus on the coursework throughout the semester and allowed me time to fulfill my duties as one of the captains on the rowing team.

For those who were organised during the summer break, myself included, the placement office wasted no time in amending CVs that were sent to them. This is one of the things I have appreciated most about the placement office. The team were very thorough in optimizing and correcting my CV appropriately whilst considering the types of jobs that I would be applying for. This resulted in a complete overhaul of the CV I had thrown together over the summer and made my CV look very polished indeed.

Having chosen a few placements that intrigued me, I set about checking all of the details associated with the roles; job description, size of the company, location, accommodation and so on. I was in no rush and could ring home to discuss things I was unsure of. After all of this, if I had any questions concerning the application or what to do next (I always did), I sent an email to the placement office. They were always very, very speedy to reply and the advice they gave was reassuring. Often they pointed me in the direction of the Moodle page where a massive amount of information is listed, including the experiences of past placement students as well as databases of where everyone else has applied – this is particularly useful when it comes to finding somewhere to live during a year in industry!

My biggest concern during this time was missing out on placements that were not yet announced and subscribing for placements I was not completely bowled over by prematurely. This problem was quickly resolved after questioning the placement team. The team was very understanding (I imagine they are asked some questions over and over) and told me to write a letter to respective employers in advance if I was aware that their placement scheme was yet to be announced. This reassured me further and has resulted in a very stress free experience altogether.

In addition to all of this, throughout the semester there were also seminars hosted by the team which guided us in writing and submitting applications, interview technique and what to expect when we finally got to the job. All in all, I have been tremendously impressed by the efforts the university makes to make this big decision as easy and stress free as possible. Prior to coming to Bath I was very naïve and somewhat unaware of this massive opportunity. All I can say now is that I am extra-glad I came to Bath and it is a real advantage to be part of a department that is so involved with our jump into industry.

Click here to read more blogs about placements at Bath

 

 

Ich bin ein Berliner

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management, Second year

After two horrendous weeks of exams, it was time for the long-awaited and deserved Inter-semester break. Different university societies plan different trips during this week-long break before Semester 2 starts. The most well know trip is probably the Ski Trip to Val Thornes, which I have heard is quite awesome and you can read Hannah's blog post about it here.

As the Chair of the German Society it was my responsibility to plan the trip to Germany’s capital Berlin. The planning had already started in October, so I was really glad when exams finished and my little German society group was able to finally board a bus to Gatwick Airport. After a little detour on the motorway as our bus driver missed the exit to Gatwick and a lot of panic from my side, we arrived at the airport at 11 am and landed in Berlin in the afternoon.

Our hostel was literally in the middle of Berlin – the former East Berlin - just right next to the famous Alexanderplatz with its TV Tower. At the check-in it felt like we had never left Bath as it was a Belushis pub and hostel, which we also have in Bath and most of the staff only spoke English and hardly knew any German. However, once we left the little hostel bubble behind us it hit me hard that we are in Berlin, one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in Europe. You will find a typical East German building called Plattenbau in one street and just around the corner you will find a modern skyscraper.

It was crazy to see how the division of Germany and especially Berlin still has an impact on the city itself. The city itself remembers its famous division wall- the Berliner Mauer – with two brick rows on the street to mark where the wall stood. For me it was unbelievable to imagine that this city was divided into a Communist and a Democratic part for such a long time and that this ended just a few years before I was born.

As this was more or less a study trip to experience German culture and get a sense of living in a German city, we planned a lot of activities. It included a lot of German food – Currywurst, Schweinsbraten and Bread – and of course good German beer and Radler, a mixture between beer and lemonade. Considering I ate meat twice a day you would think that German cuisine only consist of meat dishes, but the vegetarian in our group always found something to eat as well. Even the non-drinkers were able to survive without drinking beer.

Embracing German food and beer

Embracing German food and beer

For me, the most interesting part of our trip was to visit the German Reichstag, the house of the German parliament. In this house you can actually feel the drastic political changes Germany underwent in the 20th and 21st century before it became this European superpower. The outside of the building was built in the monarchy, whereas inside you will find a modern glass cubicle designed by Norman Foster to house the united German government. However, the parliament only started its work in the new building ten years after the reunification. In the inside you will also find Russian graffiti left by the Russian soldiers at the end of the Second World War and you will still see some marks left by bombs.

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

The most impressive part about the building is probably the glass dome. The idea behind it is that members of the parliament should look up to see members of the public walking around to be remembered why they are in parliament in the first place. The public on the other side can look down on the elected members to have an eye on them so that something like the Nazi regime cannot happen again.

All in all, I can only recommend going away in the inter-semester break with a society. You will see a new city, you will meet new people and you are predicted to have some fun and might even make some friends.

 

Surviving Second Year Architecture

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering, Second year

Second year. The year the work load increases dramatically. The year that people expect you to actually know things and, for Architecture Students, the hardest year of the undergraduate course.

Or so we were told in our introductory lecture at the beginning of the year.

I mean, thank you head of year for gently easing us back into university life after a summer spent free of work load and responsibility. The pre-crit stress that we all felt last year (reduced to a distant memory whilst sipping Piña Coladas on the beach in Zanzibar) came back into focus as we were given the course outline in the same room that we had pinned up and presented our work in only months previously.

In just one semester we had 2 projects, 6 assignments and 1 exam. Now, this may not seem like a lot to anyone who has yet to study architecture but trust me, the two projects alone are enough to raise your blood pressure.

Yet, the thought of February and of relative freedom whilst on placement kept us sane as we struggled through each of our assignments. Yes, unlike any other architectural course, Bath offers a ‘Thin Sandwich Placement Course’ which essentially means that instead of undertaking a year of practical experience in the third year, you do two half year placements; one in semester two of second year and the other in semester two of third year. This is designed so that each experience prepares you for the following university year as well as giving you the opportunity to work in two different practices in order to expand your knowledge of the breadth of architectural practices.

Now, this does cause housing problems especially if you decide you want to go home for placement, venture to London or go even further afield rather than staying in the Bath or Bristol area. You will need to find another student to swap your tenancy with for the second semester but the university will help you with this. There is a business course which has placement at opposite times to architecture students thus typically a group of architects will be replaced by a group of BBA’s after January exams.

Unfortunately, this swap means that you do need to vacate your residency prior to the start of semester two and you may not necessarily have secured a placement by that time. Thus, you are either forced to return home or like some of my friends, to camp out on their sofas as their BBA friends took over their bedrooms.

I, however, decided to remain in Bath for placement meaning I still (thank god) have free rein over my bedroom. It’s depressing though, as the semester starts and I have still yet to find a placement, I find myself wishing that like my flatmates I too have lectures to go to and work to do. Instead my days are blank. I have sent out applications to 29 practices in Bath and I constantly refresh my inbox expecting a gushing email off someone begging me to work for them any minute.

7 have replied to me so far. 5 to say they are sorry but cannot offer me a placement at this time but that they are impressed with my portfolio blah blah blah. 1 is reviewing my application and 1 has asked me for interview. So now I am counting down the days to said date.

Portfolio ready for Interview

Portfolio ready for Interview

During the first semester I dreamed of being free. Now, I dream of a project of sorts to keep me occupied. Don’t get me wrong, the first few nights of going to bed without setting an alarm were bliss. I could wake mid-morning and not have to move until my rumbling stomach made it impossible to hear what McDreamy was saying on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. But, quickly the novelty of doing nothing all day has worn off. It’s funny, starting a series when you actually have time to watch multiple episodes a day is not as fun as beginning ‘Gossip Girl’ a few weeks before June deadlines last year.

Helping out at Bath Cats and Dogs Home

Helping out at Bath Cats and Dogs Home

In order to pass the days, I have re-organised my whole bedroom, carried out a much needed clean of the bathroom, volunteered more frequently at ‘Bath Cats and Dogs Home’ and even cycled to and from Bristol one day when I was feeling extra motivated to leave the house.

My newly organised bedroom

My newly organised bedroom

I spent over two hours in Bristol’s Starbucks finishing my book and recovering before forcing myself to remount for the 13 miles back to Bath. It is a lovely sign posted off road route which is relatively flat except a few assents on the outskirts of Bristol. Definitely a must do for anyone who has a bike in Bath – though it does get a little busy during peak commute/school times. A bell is a useful investment; I could only politely yell at the school kids to get out of my way.

The Bath to Bristol Cycle Way

The Bath to Bristol Cycle Way

I am really excited to start a placement and to be working full time – partly so that I can truthfully sing Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ but also so that I can experience life as a grown up and decide whether or not it’s what I want to be. I’m not sure how useful I will be to the lucky practice who hires me, but I guess I’m a fast learner. At least that’s what I will tell them in my interview tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

 

Facilities at the University of Bath

  

📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year, Ruth

Now that my exam is complete and revision is no more (fist pumps) I thought I’d write about the facilities at the university at Bath – which are great! Honestly, I hardly ever feel the need to leave the University. Almost everything you could ever want is within 5 minutes walking distance when you live on campus. In this blog I will tell you a bit out the library, Sports training village (STV) and the eateries on campus.

Firstly, the library. I’ve got to say this is the one I’m least familiar with! Its open 24/7 for starters so for that last minute revision or looming deadline it’s perfect. Different floors have different policies regarding talking so it suits all types of learners, whether you work best in complete silence or , like me, prefer a bit of background noise. Tip - there are vast amounts of computers in the library, just don’t sit in front of one with your laptop, they’re in high demand and you won’t be very popular! The library is very spacious though so there are plenty of places to work.

Bath's brilliant Library

Bath's brilliant Library

It’s best to use the level that is home to the resources for your subject. For example the books and articles relating to psychology are on level 5 so if I work there I have quick and easy access to any papers I may need- handy! What is even more convenient though is the online search engine which allows you to see whether the book is available and exactly where, in the library, it is located. The ground floor of the library has areas of sofas and tables for group work and I have used these because after all it saves having to tidy your room before inviting your group members over!

Study area in the Library

Study area in the Library

Secondly, a facility I’m pleased to say I do use, the STV. I didn’t even look round this facility on the open day as exercise and sport is not my thing. However now I’m here I realise how lucky we are at Bath with the sports facilities and I really enjoy using it. At the beginning of the year I paid for an off-peak gym membership which cost £190, I have really tried to budget well and not spend too much money but, in my opinion, this is very reasonable. The gym is also available for use by the general public but at a higher price.  A peak membership is a little more expensive and with mine I can use the gym till 3pm on weekdays and 7pm at the weekends which suits me just fine – don’t want to be doing too much exercise!

Entrance to the Sports Training village (STV)

Entrance to the Sports Training village (STV)

Included in the gym membership is access to classes and the opportunity to work with a member of staff to produce a personal exercise plan. It is well worth buying because the gym is great, really well equipped and I have found it the perfect way to escape from coursework and revision whilst keeping fit at University. The STV also has a huge swimming pool which I am yet to use but really want to! This is free for students to use so don’t forget to bring your swimming gear!

Last but certainly not least, food! There is so much choice, it’s so easy to just eat like a king and forget about the money you’re spending and the weight you’re gaining, oops! My personal favourite is The Limetree which has an Italian section selling a variety of pizza and pasta dishes as well as a salad bar and a choice of three homemade meals a day. In Fountain Café you can get burritos, fajitas, jacket potatoes, noodles, the list goes on! My flatmates favourite however is Parade Bar which has a huge selection of burgers which I must say, are delicious! Most of these eateries sell food throughout the day and also provide great social spaces to meet up with friends or get a bit of work done.

The Limetree

The Limetree

 

 

End of Semester Exams: Part 1

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

After beginning my first semester at university I was very surprised at how it abruptly it ends. I was amazed at how the first semester flew by and all without me noticing. I blame this not on the amount of fun I was having but also on the constant workload and the back-to-back report/assignment juggling I had to do. Nonetheless, it was time to put on my revision boots and to get planning. Revision seems like something that you would naturally do, you have done a lot of it in school and so you should know the ins and outs of how you manage to remember things. Going into revision for university requires nothing special but knowing a few extra tips and tricks will help you to save time!

One of the first things I had to consider was what I would be taking back home with me as I was planning to spend Christmas back home. I decided not to run to the library and take advantage of their winter loans (which span the Christmas break and more) and take out every book your lecturers recommended, but instead to use my notes and the lecturer’s notes which were more than sufficient

You'll be seeing a lot of this at Uni!

You'll be seeing a lot of this at Uni!

Organisation is one of the most important things that is both tedious and life-saving. Some departments do not allow the solutions to past exams to be published, so you get stuck with a past paper with no answers to check yours against. Here comes the value of all those questions your tutors set for you throughout the semester, your tutors would have provided solutions to those and an insight into how questions should be solved in the exam. These along with any quizzes and tests will provide you with a wealth of knowledge of what might be coming, so save those papers and make sure to ask your lecturers all the questions you need to ask while you still have them!

The sad state of my bookshelf

The sad state of my bookshelf

Some departments offer an exam preparation lecture slot. This lecture is near the end of the first semester before the break and explains what is going to happen in the exams and how the exams are handled after you hand it in to the invigilator. The university uses an anonymous marking system that is good because this means the marking of the papers is completely fair. The lecturer at one of these sessions might also throw in some helpful tips with answering the exam questions or explain how they mark exams which will give you some pointers as to how to approach questions. On top of this, the lecture serves as a reassurance to anyone who is beginning to panic about their first exams at university.

Christmas break well deserved after a semester of hard work and it should be treated that way. It's important not to get into a cycle of paranoia and burnout where you think you aren’t studying as much as you should and how much your friends have completed. Take things at your own pace and make sure you take time to relax, and with good planning and preparation revision is far more likely to be successful.

 

Applying for a year abroad

  

📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

There are certain expectations that you should set for yourself if you're planning to go to university.

  1. Someone will always steal your milk and not own up to it
  2. You will often be faced with the choice of going to your 9:15am lecture or sleeping in
  3. You are going to spend most of your Christmas holidays studying for January exams.

Personally, the third one is holding true at the moment but this year I am also in the midst of applying for placements for my year abroad. As part of my International Management & Modern Languages (French) degree, or FIMML for short, I spend my third year in France. I have 12 months abroad and this can be spent in any of the following combinations:

  1. 12 months placement
  2. 12 months in a French business school
  3. 6 months placement / 6 months business school.

For anyone who is considering applying to France, it is worth noting that the French government has just brought in a law which restricts placements to 6 months maximum within any organisation. In order to spend 12 months in a French placement, it is now necessary to apply for two separate 6 month placements in different departments of the same company or different companies altogether. My cohort is the first to experience this new law and therefore it will be interesting to see how it all plays out!

Preparation

From the offset, our year abroad officer, Ninon, has been brilliant in preparing us for our applications. I will not get bogged down in the details of the preparation but if you attend all her presentations which will be scheduled into your timetable, you will be ready to start applying. In terms of learning to write French CVs and cover letters, this will be dealt with in your french seminars but it is coordinated between Ninon and the seminar tutors. For this reason, I would say it is crucial that you do not skip any of your French seminars in 2nd year.

Ninon's presentations have included:

  • A presentation on all the different business schools
  • Advice on applying for placements
  • Organised meetings with 4th year students who have just returned from their year abroad, and much more.

All of this information has helped me to make an informed decision on how I want to spend my year abroad and I'm going to attempt to apply for two 6 months placements. I've actually just submitted my first application and am now moving onto my second so let's discuss that and see how straightforward it was.

If you want to go to a business school, it acts like an exchange. Uni of Bath takes some of their students and in return they take some of ours. There are a number of prestigious French business schools which you can apply to including multiple ones in Paris, Strasbourg and Nancy. You'll be inserted into one of the business courses and complete your modules in French. These marks are then converted and added to your degree at Bath. I had the pleasure of visiting Nancy last June and it is a beautiful city in the east of France. I was also in Strasbourg train station however, I'm not sure if that counts.

Nancy Ville, France

Nancy Ville, France

Applying

Around November, companies will start making placements available to apply for. These will be sent to your year abroad officer and they will then post them on Moodle. Moodle is an online service which every university student has access to with their online login details. It also contains all your course and module resources. Once on Moodle, you can download the job advertisement, see the application deadline, see who you need to send your applications to etc.

My first application was to a company called Thales. They're a huge global company, specialising in defense, aerospace and security and all those sorts of things. Thales, like many other companies will have a good relationship with University of Bath because of our fantastic reputation. As a result, some of the placements advertised will be exclusively for University of Bath students which reduces the competition to your cohort.

Some applications will ask you for a CV and cover letter in French or English. I chose to send both in french because the next step will be a Skype interview in french. My logic is that if I have already submitted two documents in good French, my interviewers will already have faith that I can write well in french on the chance that I stumble with my french in the interview. It is worth bearing in mind that most companies will appreciate that you are not yet fluent and the point of the year abroad will be to become fluent in french so there is some leeway (apparently). Still, you want to impress them right?

Another useful tip is to try and get into contact with any Bath students who have either had a placement with the company or are currently on placement with the company. I am really lucky because I actually have a friend who is on her year abroad with Thales at the moment. Well, I use the word friend. To her I'm probably just the annoying Irish kid who is constantly begging for help with his CV at 2am (3am in Paris). If you're reading this, I'm sorry but also thank you. Yeah. Moving swiftly on.

So I typed up my cover letter which was one page long; I tweaked my CV to make it specific to the role I was applying to and I emailed it to Thales. It was right before the Christmas holidays so I don't expect a reply for a little while. However, I'm going to send another one tomorrow and hope that I get an interview for at least one of them. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to spending time with my dog. It is Christmas day after all. Happy Holidays!

My Dog