Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Adding spice to university life: gym, vegetable plots, and the Bath Award

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

Things had started to get pretty repetitive for me in university. Bus – Class – Lunch – Class – Bus is the cycle I’ve been in since September. However, I have managed to find some extra-curricular activities to add some spice to my routine.

After a long wait I have finally convinced myself to get a gym membership (halfway through the year). I have delayed getting a gym membership for a while due to a mixture of university workload and procrastination. I was also very unsure of what I would be doing in the gym because I’m not that avid of a gym-goer, so I was surprised that the gym offered me a free service when I joined that set me up with a trainer who wrote out a workout schedule for me.

Early mornings at the gym

Early mornings at the gym

After booking a meeting with the trainer I settled with a programme that I do on my own and gets changed every six weeks. I have also seen trainers that provide a personal training service too, but that wouldn’t suit me because I prefer my timetable to be flexible. Having a space where I can put on my music and row till I can’t feel my legs anymore is greatly appreciated … at least until I have to waddle into campus next day.

The main reason for my awkward induction to the Sports Training Village gym was because I was getting bored of swimming being the only sport I do whenever I get tired of work. I am slightly regretting not joining a sports society to learn a new sport, but there is always next year. The gym will be keeping me busy until then with all the different things that I can do. It’s slightly becoming an obsession as I am starting to look at different techniques which push me to my limit.

I have also begun to apply for volunteering opportunities through the Students Union. One of these is a community garden where students get to prepare and plant a plot in a park in the city of Bath where anyone can contribute to/benefit from what is planted. The idea is to get people familiar with plants that are local to the area, and all of it is organic. I really enjoyed this more than any of the volunteering opportunities I have had before because I really believe in organic produce and using public spaces for more than just flower and tree galleries. I also have gotten to meet some really cool people who have similar interests.

The vegmead vegetable plot in early spring

The vegmead vegetable plot in early spring

The one and only, Rodney the Rhubarb!

The one and only, Rodney the Rhubarb!

Another opportunity I am looking forward to is teaching secondary students about electricity and magnetism with an engineer from Airbus- I can’t wait!

Last, but not least, I have started to look at the Bath Award and to about the criteria I need to meet in order to complete it. The Bath Award is an award given by the university to students who take on tasks that provide them with key skills that they will need when they graduate and enter the world of work. Its requirements are fairly straightforward and I think it will reflect all of my extra-curricular activities nicely by the time I graduate. So I can both enjoy my time volunteering and rest assured that the time I spent will be appreciated by future employers.

 

A Social life: having one and funding it!

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

University is definitely not all about work and study, it is so important to have fun and to take some time out from studying. I’ve loved the social side of university so far and I hope I can give you a flavour for what it is like here at the University of Bath. Of course, it is difficult to fund a social life, especially when you are a student and perhaps find yourself in charge of your own money for the first time, so I hope to give you some handy tips too!

There is a good night life in Bath (despite what you may have heard!) with a number of student nights running at various clubs throughout the week. A personal favourite is Moles on a Tuesday night where they play all the very best cheesy songs! However when getting the bus into town seems like just too much effort there are two nights a week put on by the Students Union (SU) on campus. Score takes place on a Wednesday night and is mainly attended by sports teams but is open to all, Klass takes place on Saturday night and is great to go to as a flat because it is so convenient, with it being on campus. Each Saturday is a different theme which can provide great opportunities for dressing up!

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

If this kind of nightlight isn’t for you then the SU has a variety of other events during the week, such as a quiz night, film night and an open mic night. The quiz night is great for bringing out people’s competitive sides and the SU has been known to show some classics on film night.

As well as these events which are organised for everyone, there are also events put on by specific societies for their members. I am a member of the Baking Society and we have fortnightly socials where we basically just eat cake (what is there not to love?). Also BAPS (Bath Association of Psychology Students) has regular socials such as pizza nights, bar crawls and trips to Bristol, I know that societies for other courses have similar events. These are just the societies I am part of, there are so many more and I guarantee there will be at least one that takes your fancy! Have a look at our Student’s Union website for a full list of the societies here at Bath.

One of many societies you can be part of!

One of many societies you can be part of!

So you’re probably wondering how, as a student, you are supposed to have enough money to enjoy these kind of events. Well, I have to admit it has been a learning curve but I am finally starting to feel like I can budget well and have enough money to enjoy myself. My first tip would be to be disciplined when buying food. It is so easy to see all your favourite foods on the shelf, transfer them to your basket and before you know it you have spent a fortune, so make a list before you go shopping and only buy what you need – planning meals for the week really helps with this. I have also made the most of getting food from home when I visit or getting my parents to take me food shopping when they come to visit me.

Valentine's themed bake!

Valentine's themed bake!

My second tip would be to make the most of discounts! Whether that be downloading vouchers from emails you’d have previously moved to ‘trash’ or visiting food shops late at night as they apply discounts. A great way to save money is to have an NUS card, which will make sure you can get all the student discounts you are entitled to.  I have found that one very costly aspect of University is travelling so be sure to get a railcard/National Express card and consider getting a saver bus ticket if you think you will be using it regularly at University.

 

Through the eyes of an introvert

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📥  Faculty of Science, Postgraduate

"So, what do you study?", they ask. Oh dear. If only they knew that using this as a conversation starter would probably lead them into trouble. "Condensed Matter Physics", I reply, then pause to receive nods or some sign that they know what I'm talking about. Instead, I receive a blank face.

Ideally, I would explain the following. Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) aims to understand condensed states of matter like solids and liquids. They're "condensed" because their particles are close enough together that they interact strongly. Strong interactions can lead to incredible behaviour. For example, when liquid helium is cooled below 2.17 Kelvin (-271 °C), it becomes a superfluid which can climb out of its container; it appears to defy gravity! This is thanks to its particles moving together rather than bumping into each other. Now that's teamwork. Considering that much of our world consists of solids, including semiconductors used in all modern technology, developments in CMP influence our lives more than you might expect.

But that's not how I react to their blank face. Actually, I relate CMP to something more familiar: "Well, CMP is like Nanoscience. There's a lot of overlap between the two subjects." This gives me the nods I was looking for and leads to questions about the science of tiny things which I'm welcome to answer. I realise that this indirect approach isn't as helpful for CMP to become better known. Yet, I assure you, it's not out of laziness. It's just that I have a natural tendency to make conversations brief. Expressing myself in writing, on the other hand, feels more comfortable. I have more time to think, not rushed by the pace of the world. So, here's insight from my first semester as a postgraduate which I couldn't tell you with the same clarity in person.

I'm studying CMP in a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) based jointly in Bath and Bristol. CDTs admit students in cohorts of about a dozen per year, and I couldn't be happier with mine.

The cohort structure provides many opportunities for teamwork, although we haven't yet tried to defy gravity together. If I were in a conventional PhD without cohorts, I might worry about feeling isolated and alone. Sure, someone doing a conventional PhD may have a close-knit research group, but it's still not the same as being part of a student cohort like how undergraduate studies felt. Our cohort is well supported by approachable academics, too. In fact, our CDT coordinator has shown such patience in dealing with any of our problems, both academic and personal, that he's almost like our babysitter!

We get double the support because the CDT is a joint venture between Bath and Bristol. Both cities have their pros and cons. I prefer our office in Bristol because it's more spacious and has a better layout, but Bath does allow 24/7 access. As for access in Bristol... it's not as forgiving.

After 7:15 pm, Bristol's physics building has what I call a lockdown for undergraduates and first year CDT students. On one night, as I was leaving by 7 pm, I was surprised when my card wouldn't unlock any doors; I was locked inside my own physics department. Little did I know that on Fridays, lockdown happens earlier at 6 pm. In this situation, we're advised to call security. Too bad this was the one night when I didn't have my phone. Other escape plans also had problems. My last resort was to break an emergency exit door, but I was reluctant to make any alarms go off. Luckily, a senior faculty member eventually passed by. He mentioned that a few years ago, someone locked inside an upper level jumped out a window and broke a leg. Maybe he was spreading a rumour to scare me from getting locked inside again. Regardless, I was thankful that he let me out. In the weeks following, I pushed the CDT to give better access, and I hear that there's now a plan to delay lockdown back to 10 pm. Future CDT students: you're welcome.

My first semester involved plenty of new experiences, yet my next promises to be even better. As part of my CDT placement, I'll be doing research in the Netherlands for six weeks—I'm excited and scared at the same time! It's as far out of my comfort zone as I can imagine, but that's exactly what I need to become a better me. I won't be alone either as I'll have a project partner from my cohort who considers herself a loud introvert. We'll be partners in crime. If you liked reading this blog, follow us to the Netherlands where we're bound to find more trouble!

 

 

 

If you are interested in knowing more about the CDT in Condensed Matter Physics then please follow this link: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/cdtcmp/

My Bath Bucket List

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Living in the city of Bath is very special, and I always find myself feeling a little too soppy when strolling the historic streets, and declaring to my friends and family at home that I’m lucky enough to be living in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I knew on my first Open Day at the University that it was the place for me, and I consider Bath a ‘mini London’; it’s got every shop you’ll need, a cornucopia of tourist attractions, pretty efficient public transport and some brilliant eateries. It’s packed with visitors snap, snap, snapping away with their cameras and its arts and culture scene is thriving.

I suppose what is different to London is that Bath seems more ‘gentle’. The pace is a little slower, the people are much friendlier and there’s much more of a sense of calm and a shared curiosity to learn and explore. That’s exactly why I love Bath, and feel uber lucky to reside here! The bonus is that the University is truly great, and interacts closely with the city and what’s happening ‘downtown’.

Today, I thought I’d jot down my top 8 things to do in Bath. A ‘Bucket List’ I suppose. To help me out, I’ve linked in the Bath Leap List here, this is a whole pamphlet bursting with things to see and do in Bath and in surrounding cities. There’s stuff for students, and some more nature-y based things for your parents and families who love a woodland stroll.

If you’re a lover of the Great British Bake Off, or a lover of bakes and sweet treats in general, you must treat yourself to a Sally Lunn’s Bun. Sally Lunn’s is the oldest house in Bath and is placed down a tiny and very quaint backstreet in Bath. Sally Lunn’s offers buns which are a mix of scones, brioches and bread rolls all in one and they’re very light, and truly tantalising. You only have to take to Instagram to see all the toppings offered, and the surroundings inside the shop are gorgeous. The waitresses wear traditional uniform to serve Bath’s special buns and it’s a wonderful hour to spend filling your tummy in Bath. They’re unmissable!

Of course, the next go-to is the Roman Baths. Could you visit Bath without popping in?! As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Roman Baths are very central in the city and are a treasure. Immersed in roman history, quirks and traditions, the Roman Baths are an integral part of Bath’s history. The Roman Baths also hold events such as Tunnel Tours, behind the scenes trips at the Baths and even T’ai Chi on the Roman Baths terrace! Why not?

Only a minutes’ walk from the Roman Baths is the Guildhall. Here, an indoor market is held during the week and on Saturdays – it sounds a little odd, but really is a great place to visit. There’s fresh foods, homeware stalls, a sweetie stall that seems to offer every marshmallow flavour under the sun and even a café among the market stalls and shops. The building is very beautiful, and only adds to the experience.

The Guildhall Indoor Market. It's awesome

The Guildhall Indoor Market. It's awesome

There’s no way you can miss the magnificence of the Bath Abbey when exploring Bath; it’s pretty triumphant and immensely gorgeous. As bellowing, and slightly scary as the Abbey may look, both inside and out it’s crafted to perfection. Indoors is tranquil, comforting and ornate and the Abbey only asks for a donation to go in. There’s usually things held inside the Abbey such as bake sales, choir rehearsals which you can sit in on, and the Christmas Carol concert is second to none. Absolutely worth a trip inside!

Part of a dreamy stroll I regularly do along the Kennett and Avon Canal, leading to Pulteney Bridge

Part of a dreamy stroll I regularly do along the Kennett and Avon Canal, leading to Pulteney Bridge

Walking along the canal in the city of Bath is very refreshing as unlike other canal strolls, the Bath canal really is riddled with locks which you frequently see families operating to get their narrowboats down the Avon & Kennet Canal. There’s many a dog-walker around, and many spots to stop for a picnic in the most scenic of settings.

The one and only Pulteney Bridge!

Walking along the canal is lovely, as there's many bridges and a lots of locks

During the autumn months, walking along the canal is particularly nice as the scattered leaves and auburn trees are very beautiful. Walking along the canal will lead to the Pulteney Bridge in the centre of town, and the end of the walk could not be more eye-catching (or tourist flocked!).

Pulteney Bridge

The one and only Pulteney Bridge!

Pulteney Bridge is where some scenes of the Les Miserables movie were shot, so you can’t not come by and have a selfie! The weir under the bridge is fast-moving and makes an interesting photo. The bridge was built in 1774 and is of Palladian Style in the heart of Bath. Many would argue that the bridge resembles the Ponte Vecchio in Florence which adds some exoticism to Bath!

What would a trip to the city of Bath be without visiting the Royal Crescent? The Royal Crescent is a key (and rightly so) attraction in Bath. The Royal Crescent epitomises Georgian architecture, and was built over 230 years ago. The crescent is very distinctive, and cannot be visited without taking a selfie outside of the 30 terraced houses! Just next door the Royal Crescent is the Royal Victoria Park, the starting point where many hot air balloons are launched in the summer – it’s a great place to be.

If you love good food and drink, and also love trying out independent places as opposed to chains; Kingsmead Square, slap-bang in the middle of the city is the perfect place for you. Bursting with independent coffee houses, brunch stops and tea rooms with a farmers market on a Saturday – Kingsmead square is the best place to re-fuel. I can recommend the Society Café for a stunning cappuccino and equally perfect pain au chocolat or if you’re grabbing dinner in this district; hit up The Stable which prides itself on only serving cider and stonebaked pizzas – they’re divine.

That’s all for today, but what I’ve suggested is only scraping the surface! Bath is very busy and bustling and you’ll never struggle to find things to fill up your days here!

Charlotte.

 

End of Semester Exams: Part 2

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

This may sound like crazy, but I really couldn’t wait to come back to university. There is something about university life that I seem to have gotten used to subconsciously but never seemed to have figured out what it is exactly. As soon as my train got back into the station and I set foot back in Bath, I had a confident skip in my step and a solid ‘Battle-plan’ for revision week. I treated myself to a good night’s sleep and next morning I was off to the university library to hunker down for what was to come.

Try not to get stuck in the long line at the bus stop before an exam!

Try not to get stuck in the long line at the bus stop before an exam!

I slowly realised that having some of my friends come along to the silent study area is a bad idea because silent study quickly turns into a miming competition and a lunch planning committee. I also understood the unwritten laws of the library during exam periods. The seat you get is the seat where you will stay until you cannot physically turn one more page, the moment you leave someone will take your seat and you’ll be abolished to library purgatory where you shuffle around the library looking for another seat. However, I did also discover that there is a treasure trove of rooms that are booked for students to study in which I found extremely useful.

Going into the exam for the first time was a bit scary and weird at the same time. Scary because it was my first exam at  university level, but weird because the atmosphere was more relaxed than A-Level examinations. The invigilators seemed to expect you to know what to do and don’t tend to repeat things like at the beginning of IELTS exams- I specifically enjoyed not being told a hundred times about the punishments of cheating!

When I started my first exam (Mathematics 1) I had a shaky start due to my own anxiety. I wish I could apologize to whoever had to mark my paper because of all the crossing out I did. The fact that I had a choice of questions I could answer did not help either as I kept jumping from question to question trying to decide which was easier. I managed to pull myself together just in time to do the required amount with enough confidence in my answers to hand in my paper with a good outlook.

After the first exam the following exams were pretty much straightforward. Although some of the exams surprised us because they differed vastly from the 5 year trend seen in the past papers, I still managed to keep my momentum up until the final exam. I realised throughout the semester that I can only prepare for something as much as I can, and to a certain degree I have learnt to this. Managing time during an exam is a critical skill that I will need to learn quickly, but since my first year does not contribute to my final mark on my degree I have some time to figure this out

After completing my exams I had prepared to go on a little holiday to London just to have a change of scenery. I managed to find a deal on a hotel that isn’t too far away from central London and along with my 16-25 railcard I managed to save a good amount of money, which was put to good use I promise. Choosing London as a destination might seem boring compared to where a lot of people go on their holidays but seeing a familiar place with a new attitude made my visit more special.

Harrods is always in a Christmas mood

Harrods is always in a Christmas mood

Workers taking down Banksy's latest while on my visit

Workers taking down Banksy's latest while on my visit

Coming back to university for the second semester was kind of like starting a New Year again. I have made my resolutions and I have learnt from my previous mistakes, all that’s left now is to take it head on.

 

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