Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Tagged: Accommodation

What life is like in Norwood House

  

📥  Laura (Psychology)

In March 2016 I went off travelling for a few months, loved it and stayed for an extra 5 weeks. As I hopped from night bus to hostel to plane I hardly thought about Uni, which was a slight issue, because during this final 5 weeks came the day of choosing uni accommodation. I am massively disorganised, and could hardly remember the accommodation I’d looked through in February, but found an email draft where I’d written my top 3 choices of the vast selection, based on pricing, room size etc, so I forwarded it to my parents along with my username and password so that they could apply for me.

It's so important to consider different factors when you're choosing your accommodation. The most crucial one for me was cost; knowing that my brother had had the cheapest accommodation when he was at Uni meant that I didn't even look at The Quads. Ah, the mood lighting, ensuites, and double beds will always just be a dream for me. But also, some of the accommodation is catered. On my first day at Bath I heard a boy say to his mum in Fresh, the supermarket "do I cook pasta in the oven?" And honestly I think if your culinary skills are at that ability, catered accommodation may be the safest option for you. I, on the other hand, really love to cook, and am pretty fussy with all my dietary requirements, so actively avoided catered accommodation as a result.

Ensuite is a real deal breaker for some people. Initially I said I'd pay the difference so that I could have one, but when my mum pointed out that this would be hundreds of pounds I quickly gave up. And honestly, it's been fine. I've never had to queue for either the showers or toilet, they're always clean (I was surprised, too) and yeah, generally I don't think it's as dramatic as everyone expects.

The final big accommodation decision is whether you live on campus or in the city. I didn't even look at city accommodation; I'm lazy and wanted to fully embrace the convenience of campus life. But a friend on my course lives in the city and loves it. She applied late and it wasn't her first choice, but she says that it's so convenient being in the city centre; they're near shops, restaurants and clubs, in a much more central location than most of the student accommodation we'll live in next year. Yes, they have to get the bus in for lectures, but so do all the other years, and given that they don't know any different she says she really likes living there. So yeah, wherever you end up really isn't the end of the world.

There were a lot of things I hadn’t realised about Bath Uni. All I knew was that it was really, really good for psychology, that it was at the top of a hill, that it was a campus uni, and that I loved the city. So when I arrived I learned some fun facts like just how sporty it is (how I didn’t know that is beyond me), and also, that Norwood House is located above the Students' Union. All my flat mates knew, everyone was excited because it meant we could go out without even going outside, and it meant we were right in the centre of everything going on on campus. I tried to remind my mum of this while she panicked that I wouldn’t be able to sleep and hastily rummaged through my bag for ear plugs. I’m not gonna lie; Norwood can be noisy. Score is on a Wednesday and Klass is on a Saturday; the two nights ‘out’ on campus. Score goes on until 2 and Klass until 3, and I could sing along to Mr Brightside or Seven Nation Army from my bed if I wanted to. We also have the added fun that if someone sets off the fire alarm in the SU, we get evacuated too. Good times.

Tthe sunsets from the ninth floor of Norwood House are amazing.

Tthe sunsets from the ninth floor of Norwood House are amazing.

However, I love Norwood and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. All the rooms are spacious student rooms; single bed, wardrobe, 2 little chests of drawers, shelves, a big desk, an arm chair and a sink. Literally what more could you want? We share 2 toilets and 2 showers between 7 of us, and I am yet to have to queue. And our kitchen is massive; we’ve hosted meals for the whole floor many times.

We even got an extra table so that more people can eat in our kitchen

We even got an extra table so that more people can eat in our kitchen

And I’m on the ninth floor and I swear the views couldn’t be better. We’re also so near anything. Ever thought I wish I could go to starbucks without going outside? Well we can. And the library. And Mini Fresh (a convenience store), a cash point, laundry facilities. We have it all, and our rent is one of the cheaper options; I think it’s £122 a week. Also, within a week or two you’re so used to the sound of the SU you sleep through it, if you’re not at Klass or Score anyway.

Aand the best part, getting to live with these guys

Aand the best part, getting to live with these guys

Yes, our corridor looks a bit like it could be in a prison. It really does. But who hangs out in the corridor?? Okay we don’t have mood lighting like the Quads, but you can’t get a more convenient night out than one where you just have to go down 7 floors in the lift to arrive at the club. Norwood is the best. Not that I’m biased or anything.

Laura x

 

A Day in the Life of a First Year- Weekend Edition

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📥  First year, Laura (Psychology)

Before I came to uni I was really unsure how people spent their free time. Would I be constantly in the library? Going out every night? At the gym? Well, it’s fair to say, the answer to all three of those ideas is no. I’ve visited the library on a handful of occasions (and only then because my laptop broke), I’m too poor to go out anything like every night, and, well, let’s just say I haven’t made it to the gym every week, let alone every day. So one quiet Saturday towards the end of first semester I thought I’d document my day, to show what it’s really like to be a first year.

First thing’s first; coffee. An essential for starting any day. Here I had it in a flask which I stole/borrowed from my flat mate, because my mugs just don’t hold enough. It was a very grey, dismal day, which made me really not want to go outside. That’s pretty lucky, because at uni you really don’t have to! Love it.

My usual start to the day

My usual start to the day

Next was breakfast. As I do on many mornings, I managed to overestimate the capacity of the bowl, and subsequently had a bit of a microwave-porridge explosion. But being the good flatmate I am I quickly cleaned this up. I then topped my porridge with some peanut butter and fruit- 10/10 and would definitely recommend. It’s nice to add a little bit of colour to the beige diet every so often.

Oops

Oops

Upon returning to my room it came to my attention that my washing basket was on the verge of overflowing. I do a big wash every week and am still yet to work out how to reduce this, but it’s not so bad! In Norwood, my accommodation, the washing machines and tumble driers are on the fourth floor, so, armed with my Circuit laundry card, a couple of washing capsules, and, of course, my coffee, I headed to the lift. I put my washing on for its 50 minute cycle and headed across to the library.

'the close proximity of the washing machines means fashion choices just aren't an issue

'the close proximity of the washing machines means fashion choices just aren't an issue

You’re not allowed any food or drinks in the library, so, er, obviously, I wouldn’t have dreamt of taking my coffee in… I found an empty computer and set to work on my lab report, which took much of my focus and mental energy towards the end of the semester. I’m not sure how long I stayed and worked on this for, probably until I was on the verge of a little stress-cry or until my stomach began to rumble, but I headed back to Norwood pretty quickly, moving my laundry to a drier and went to my room, probably with a little stop in the kitchen for some food enroute.

As the end of the semester approached, I felt an urge to use up everything in my cupboards and freezer, and decided to make a food plan of what to eat each day in order to achieve this. I’m never usually this organised and I’ll admit I didn’t actually stick to this, but it’s a pretty good idea in terms of helping you work out what you need to buy, and prevent the inevitable ‘eating a daily share bag of crisps’ habit which I’d fallen into by about day 3.

My foodplan

My foodplan

Following on from this I decided to whip up some pasta sauce. A friend from home came to stay for a few nights during the last week, and so I wanted something easy for us to eat. As you can see, it looks awful, and we ended up buying something from the parade bar to avoid having to eat this bizarre concoction of ‘everything in my cupboards put into one saucepan’. Mmmmm.

What is even in here?!

What is even in here?!

I then returned to bed; a common theme in my life, and did some some more work. I probably had a nap here too, which is one of my favourite ways to fill the time between meals.

Later, my friend Lara and I decided to go for a walk. This is pretty much the only ‘hobby’ I’ve acquired at uni, as we both realise that we haven’t moved in several hours/days/potentially weeks and go for a stroll around campus. We’ve ended up in a field of cows, lost somewhere on the golf course behind campus, and, my favourite, stargazing with our other flatmates. This was a little less eventful, but we got to see the nice sky.

Taking a walk near campus

Taking a walk near campus

I haven’t documented my food consumption here but I would have had lunch, dinner, and many snacks, before heading over to one of the other kitchens on our floor. We usually hang out in each other’s rooms but if someone’s making dinner we’ll go to the kitchen, and tonight we were discussing housing for next year, which is a major source of stress! Thankfully we’ve now secured our house and paid our tenancy fees and deposits, but this was one of many stressed conversations. I think the empty vodka bottle on the table is somewhat symbolic.

As it was a Saturday night by about half 10 the sounds of Klass could be heard from the SU below. We had our usual ‘shall we go’ debate which this week was unsuccessful, probably as by this stage of the semester we all had about 9p to our name, and fairly soon went our separate ways. Ear plugs in I went to bed pretty soon. Crazy student life, right?

Laura x

 

Living in Woodland Court

  

📥  First year, Mia (Business Administration)

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

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

My bedroom

My bedroom

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

Bathroom

Bathroom

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

My very useful (and personalised) pinboard

My very useful (and personalised) pinboard

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

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

Communal space in our kitchen

Communal space in our kitchen

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

Walking home to Woodland Court

Walking home to Woodland Court

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

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

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

 

Moving into and being in Student Accommodation - Westwood

  

📥  First year, Jemima (Pharmacy)

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

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

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

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

My bed

My bed

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

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

Our kitchen

Our kitchen

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

View out of my window

View out of my window

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

Pictures on my wall

Pictures on my wall

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

 

Personalising your university 'digs'

  

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

Living in Halls of Residence is great. You’re bunged into a big building with lots of incredible people from all over the UK and many from other parts of the world. You get to communally moan about lectures, have a big old flat Christmas dinner and consume copious amounts of sausages, bacon and beans when your head is a little sore on a Sunday morning. The slight downfall of living in Halls is that in many cases, your room will probably be a little uninspiring.

Most university accommodation bedrooms come with a slight smell of musk, some dodgy curtains (who decided on the print for the curtains? How did they go so wrong?) and a rather unsightly carpet colour. All in all, that’s part and parcel of the living on campus experience, but I’m going to give you some ideas to jazz up your university bedroom and make it a little more ‘you’.

 FullSizeRender (4).jpg Another great tip is to put gift wrap over your pinboards and pin up all your favourite things.


FullSizeRender (4).jpg
Another great tip is to put gift wrap over your pinboards and pin up all your favourite things.

Firstly, during Freshers’ Week, the University of Bath is very helpful in terms of flogging you some handy stuff for your bedroom. In 2015, there was a ‘houseplant sale’ which went down a treat (I salute you if your plant is still alive however, fellow students!) mainly due to the spread of cacti available.  There was also a  ‘poster sale’ which offered posters from bands, movies, inspirational quotes and other lovely designs, there was definitely a poster for everyone here.

These kinds of sales help you to spruce up your bedroom and they’re well priced, so you don’t need to worry about all your pennies going down the drain during your first week. For example, I paid a mere £3 for a huge poster and it certainly added some colour to my bedroom. In town, there are also many shops offering cheap homewear to make your walls and storage spaces a little less bland – I scoped up fairy lights, cushions, postcards and bunting from Primark and Poundland in the city of Bath and my room was looking better instantly.

Yep, my 'crazy cat lady' status is well represented in my room!

Yep, my 'crazy cat lady' status is well represented in my room!

Of course, photos are another brilliant way to personalise your Uni accommodation - make sure you bring photos in excess before you arrive at University, Freshers! Many companies print photos very cheaply, and you can now use apps to directly get all the photos on your phone or on social media platforms printed and delivered within days. Bringing photos that make you giggle, well up a little and reminisce are a great addition to your bedroom, and they’re the perfect way to get chatting to people in your first weeks at Uni.

Another way to add more of ‘you’ into your university room is to bring some small furniture pieces and homewear decoration. For example, a small rug for the floor never goes a miss, some colourful post-it note blocks add a funky ‘something’ to your desk, some bright lever arch folders are fun and help keep you organised. Bringing a radio, some groovy pen-pots or your most unique duvet cover helps add a certain je ne sais quoi to your digs.

My favourite part of my University bedroom

My favourite part of my University bedroom

I personally brought along lots of photo frames, book-ends made in the shape of my initials and a floral laundry bin to make my room more personalised and unique to me. Other people in my flat brought along record-players, teapots and innovative bedroom bins to soup-up their bedrooms.

FullSizeRender (3).jpg Fun stationery is a great addition to your desk, where you'll (hopefully) spend a lot of time!

FullSizeRender (3).jpg
Fun stationery is a great addition to your desk, where you'll (hopefully) spend a lot of time!

Another tip would be to purchase distinctive cutlery, china and other important belongings before coming to University as belongings can easily get lost or confused with the other people you live with. Try buying an oddly coloured saucepan, tupperwares with coloured lids and patterned plates, bowls and cups to make sure there’s no mix-ups in the kitchen.

If you can, snap up some unique china, so you don't all get confused with the same mugs!

If you can, snap up some unique china, so you don't all get confused with the same mugs!

Finally, during the ‘Freshers’ Fair’ in the first week of Uni, you’re bound to scoop up a multiplicity of free things, which can be perfect for adding into your décor to perk-up your room. I managed to wangle some bright green maracas which now live above my wardrobe, a plastic cowboy hat which rests on my printer (regardless of the funny looks I get for it), many free pens littering my desk and too many notepads to count!

It’s definitely worth a visit; there’s a photo booth for creating even more photo memories, sweets everywhere (if you have a ‘treat drawer’ like me these are a welcomed addition) and many representatives will offer free bottle openers, water bottles and shopping bags which you can fling into your digs too.

Charlotte.

 

The treck to university

  

📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering, Second year

25 minutes by car, 55 minutes by bus, 1 hour 7 minutes walking. Or for me; 15 minutes cycling followed by a 20 minute trek up the mountain in order to reach campus in time for my 9.15’s. Gone are the days of leaving bed 5 minutes before a lecture. Gone are the days of afternoon naps. Being an adult is hard.

Second year is a very different experience, particularly if like me, you chose accommodation 3.7 miles away from the University. And if like me, you detest the use of public transport.

I guess you never really consider accommodation after 1st year before coming to university but it really does determine your way of life in the following years. I mean, I have to factor in an extra hour and a half each day travelling time, and I can’t just pop back home for lunch or if I forget something. Organisation is key. A lunchbox is handy. Missing a lecture from sleeping in is probably inevitable.

Deciding on second year accommodation is tricky, it seems you’ve only been at university for a few weeks before the first sweep of housing anxiety descends. There is enormous pressure to choose your future flatmates and to go on flat viewings together before you’ve even learnt all your current house mates’ names. How are you supposed to know who you want to live with the year after when you can’t even navigate your way around campus without getting lost?

We decided on accommodation a few weeks before Christmas after only two house viewing, both of which I couldn’t attend (it was the weekend before my design project was due). So there I was signing a housing contract on a house I had never seen situated in a place I’d never ever heard of and with people I barely knew.

My new room

Don’t get me wrong, I love my current flatmates and my house is amazing – albeit a little far away but when you live 5 minutes from Lidl, I can’t complain. Looking back though, it was a risk.

My advice to you is not to act too hastily. Ignore the pressure to sign a contract before you’ve even done your first load of washing and wait until you are sure of the people you will be struggling through second year with. I have friends who didn’t have accommodation sorted until June last year so don’t fret, you’ll find somewhere. Besides, more properties go online in January and the months following so don’t feel like you have to move fast in order to secure a house. Chances are a better one will go on the market later.

Securing a house before Christmas meant ease of mind yes, but after knowing these people for little over 2 months it seemed very rushed. Anything could happen in the months after our contract was signed; we might discover that one of the guys cannot be trained to put the toilet seat down or that one of the girls considers that hour long showers are practically a human right. I mean we have our sanity and energy bills to think of.

Speaking of which, I’m sat here writing this in multiple layers of clothing with my dressing gown on top because we are adamant that the heating will not be turned on until the thermometer drops well below zero. Getting out of bed in the morning is often a struggle but I like to think my morning dance routine to my alarm of ‘Hollaback girl’ sufficiently warms me up. Much like the cycle to the bottom of the hill. I set off wearing a jumper, cardigan, coat, hat, gloves, scarf and end up stripping to my t-shirt for the trek up Widcome Hill to the University.

Cycling to Uni

Cycling to Uni

Many people cycle round Bath and I would really recommend bringing a bike to Uni particularly if you’re living off campus. However, cycling on the roads can be quite hazardous particularly if like my flatmate, you don’t have efficient breaks. Let’s just say he ended up splayed on the boot of the car in front – luckily unscathed but inevitably very shaken up.

Route to uni

It has been a bad week for my house in terms of injuries and illness. Conversations are currently punctuated with numerous coughs as everyone seems to be dying of something. Fresher’s flu is definitely not a myth.

I have (touch wood) yet to be infected by said disease but I do have a sprained ankle to make up for it which I personally think is worse. Honestly the past few days have been a nightmare – I had to take the bus to Uni the other day.

I became an invalid on last Wednesday night after tripping down some steps on my way home from a night out – I swear I wasn’t even drunk. But living far from town meant I had to hobble 40 google minutes (60 crippled minutes) home to bed. Each step became progressively worse but I was adamant that I could do it.

The next morning was horrible. I woke to an inflamed ankle that I couldn’t put any weight on and had to navigate getting ready for my Architecture study trip to Stonehenge on one leg. We were leaving from the bus station in town at 8am so obviously no one was awake at 7am to offer sympathy when I stumbled out of the house and started limping to the bus (a 30 minute walk away).

Besides having to walk slower than a sloth in the sun, the trip was really fun – I had never been to Stonehenge before and the architecture department even paid for us all to view the rocks up close. £9000 yearly tuition fee is definitely worth it for the £17.70 admission price it saved us.

My ankle seems to have healed quickly so I intend on returning to my usual commute to campus tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

 

Guide to Oldfield Park

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph, Second year

In their second year, the majority of students at the University of Bath flock to Oldfield Park in search of private accommodation in order to try and maintain the student vibe that they all loved so much in the first year.

At first I was quite apprehensive about living in private accommodation in this new area of the city and having to trudge up and down to campus for lectures, but like all things at Bath last year, my worries were short lived as the whole process has turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated. The buses, on the whole, run very smoothly and, due to an upgraded service this year, they are very regular throughout the day and even during the night. In this blog post I hope to give you all an idea of what living in Oldfield Park is like and I will try to describe how I am coping with the change from campus living.

As you may or may not know, this year I am Novice Captain at Bath University Boat Club. As the title suggests, I spend a lot of my time at the boathouse which happens to be down in Bath on the river, not on campus. In terms of rowing, living in Oldfield is brilliant news as it is just so close to the club. More importantly however, the previously hilly cycle to and from rowing is now completely flat and only takes five minutes, not half an hour! This change has allowed me to save lots of time and lots of sweaty clothes too no doubt, although my fitness levels may not benefit so much!

Another aspect of living in private, rented housing in Oldfield that I did not immediately appreciate, is the proximity to all of the local shops and services of Bath. It was only after living in Oldfield for a few weeks that I realised just how many shops there were nearby on Moorland Road at the heart of the student area. There is a smallish Sainsbury’s that stays open until 11pm every day and a massive Co-op. Just as there were restaurants on campus, we have restaurants, coffee shops, banks and takeaways in Oldfield too. Last year I left thinking that campus was so compact and convenient - it turns out that Oldfield Park is just the same and everything is within five minutes walking distance, perhaps even better than on campus. Another big bonus is that Lidl opened a store in Bath last year too, handily located in Oldfield so it is easily accessible to us budget-watching students. My research and experience shows me that Lidl is the cheapest place for fresh bakery products and definitely worth the ten minute walk from my doorstep.

In addition to all of the services available to us right on our door step, Bath city centre is only a ten minute walk in the other direction. On route to the city centre you have to walk past the big Sainsbury’s supermarket in Bath – we really are spoiled for choice when it comes to grocery shopping. From there all of the big names in Bath city centre are within spitting distance – no need to take a bus this year, which saves both time and money.

Another key feature of Oldfield Park that I must talk about is of course the people. It really is a campus away from campus. Having settled in, it was not long before we realised that all of our friends from first year only lived a stone’s throw away, if not on the very same street. On both sides of our terraced house the neighbours are students from the University of Bath; this is great news as they are fully understanding of our busy schedules and tolerate a bit of noise on a Friday evening.

Tow path in Bath, part of the great Bristol-Bath cycle path

Tow path in Bath, part of the great Bristol-Bath cycle path

Living in a private house means that my life is a lot more relaxed when I am away from campus. I have more free time in the evenings because I aim to get more done on campus when I am there; I work in the gaps between my lectures. The result is more time to spare when back at ‘home’ in Oldfield Park. When the weather is nice, there is a beautiful cycle path that runs all the way to Bristol just at the bottom of the road and many of us use this for relaxing on a Sunday afternoon; cycling, running or just taking a stroll to clear the mind.

In summary, although life in Quads on campus was great fun, I am really enjoying living in the private sector for the relaxed way of life and heightened freedom.

Life in Bath, is, once again, bliss.

 

A Crazy 3 months!

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

So, I'm still here and surviving! I have now been at university for 3 months and I'm still really enjoying myself. Things are beginning to feel like second nature so I guess that means I'm settling in! I'm staying in the Quads on campus, it is lovely, very modern and having the social spaces is an added bonus- even if it is a little on the expensive side! As part of our accommodation package we get catering credit per week which has meant I haven't had to do much food shopping (maybe I'm just lazy!) We can access hot meals and snacks at many cafes/eateries on campus however, for those little essentials and the occasional home cooked meal I've been using Fresh (campus’ own version of the co-op).

For those in fully self-catered accommodation there is a wide range of supermarkets in Bath City Centre and online shopping is a popular choice for many! My cooking related tip would be cook a meal for 4 and freeze in portions- makes for a quick and easy meal at a later date! I am very fortunate to have my own ensuite but I've heard that sharing is nowhere near as bad as it sounds! Having a shared kitchen can be frustrating at times especially with 5 boys in the flat who don't seem to like washing up. In light of this my kitchen sharing related tip would be to nag those who don't wash up- it works! However we have the most fun in the kitchen and it's such a great social space. It can be nice to just retreat to your room sometimes for a little peace and quiet   - in Quads our rooms are considerably smaller than those in other accommodation blocks but I like to call it cosy.

My cosy room in the Quads

My cosy room in the Quads

The rest of my cosy room in the Quads!

The rest of my cosy room in the Quads!

I definitely feel that I'm beginning to make lifelong friends, I’m quite different to my flat mates in the sense that a lot of them have been in private education whereas I have always been at state schools so our experiences differ greatly but this means we have a lot of stories to tell each other. I love spending time with them and even miss them when I visit home but I wouldn't tell them that! As well as flat mates I've got to know lots of lovely people on my course- smaller seminar groups are a great opportunity for this so make the effort to turn up for them. My 3rd tip would therefore be when you're asked to form groups in seminars, pick people you've never spoken to before.

My only moan is my technology- both my laptop and printer have failed me since I have started university – nightmare! Especially when most students here have a shiny new MacBook and I don't even have a working machine. Saying this though the IT services at University (based in the library) have been great at helping me with these issues and even installed Microsoft office for me- complementary of the university!

Bath, a beautiful city to live in.

Bath, a beautiful city to live in.

I recently went home for the first time since starting university, I decided to leave it 6 weeks to allow myself to settle and personally I feel like this was the right decision for me. If this doesn't confuse you I don't know what will, I still call Cheshire home but in the same sentence will refer to Bath as home. Going back to Cheshire was great- home cooked roast dinner, a good night sleep and a reminder of how much better the weather is down South!

I miss home a lot and my tip for anyone who thinks they may feel the same would be to have a date in mind when you will next visit, it gives you something to look forward to. Being so far away from home is difficult for me as well because most of my friends have stayed around that area either doing foundation years or an apprenticeship, with the exception of a few. Choosing Bath was tough seeing as geographically it was far away but I don't regret it at all, it's an amazing city and it can never be a bad thing to gain independence and prove to your parents you can cope alone!

Some of Bath's great architecture

Some of Bath's great architecture

In terms of the work, I will be honest, I have struggled! It is a lot harder than I expected but it is interesting and I still love Psychology just as much as before which is definitely my motivation, it is so important that you love your subject. I think it's the work load I've found tough rather than the content itself, because I'm from a state school I'm not necessarily used to going ‘above and beyond’. This has meant a lot of adjustment has needed to be done, however I think because my school was huge and we didn't get much 1-1 attention I'm used to fending for myself and just getting on with things in a way some of my course mates aren't. Anyway, I've recently handed in my first 2 assessments so I will keep you updated!

Hope this mismatch of a blog has given you some useful information and tips, feel free to comment with any questions.

 

Final Moments as a Fresher

  

📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

My life as a Fresher is over.

At the beginning of May I never thought this moment would actually happen. May is exam season at the University of Bath, so I spent the whole month behind my desk or in the library studying. It was horrible. However, it is over now. I don’t have to revise again until January or so (probably earlier thanks to midterm tests, but I don’t want to think about these yet). Not only did I take - and hopefully pass - four exams, more importantly I mastered the art of sticky buns. Every student copes differently with exam stress. For me the best way of relaxing is baking and exercising.  That’s what I did. I baked in the afternoon when my concentration level was at it lowest and went to the gym or swimming after dinner.  My tip for next years Freshers is to do the same. Find something you like and do it in between studying. It will help you to relax.

A sticky raspberry bun

A sticky raspberry bun

My last exam was followed by an amazing last week which was also sad. Finally, I was able to socialize with all my friends again and enjoy everything the city has to offer. Throughout the week my friends started to pack their things  and move out from university accommodation, and I started to think about packing all of my stuff. But first let me explain the difference between a British student and an International student moving with regards to moving out of university accommodation.

Date of leaving

The British student will most likely ask his or her family when they are able to pick them up from university with all their belongings. This will likely be at a convenient time (i.e. midday or in the afternoon!)

The International student will pick a date according to a cheap flight. This might even mean leaving university at 3am to get a bus to London (that’s a true story!)

Packing

The British student will start packing the day before they go home and might even wait until their parents arrive so they can help (or do the washing up!) Their parents will take everything with them in the car, and it doesn’t matter when they leave- there might even be the chance to go for lunch in town with their parents.

The International student actually starts packing a month before leaving. As an international student you realise that you can’t possible fit all of your belongings into two suitcases. So first, you might check your house contract to see if you are allowed to move your stuff into your new house before the summer (unfortunately, most students are only allowed to do this in July). You might ask some friends to store your stuff for them over the summer, although this could be a problem if they realise that you own too much weird stuff (like a bread making machine!) or if you will be arriving back at Uni earlier than them afte rthe summer break.

Luckily there are actually companies which will store stuff for you and pick it up and even bring it back (there are some great ones out there, many of which offer student discounts). Often it can be almost as cheap to store a lot of stuff compared to just one box. It is a good idea to look for other International students who might want also want to store their stuff and split the cost. As you will probably be focusing on revision rather than packing your stuff (any your flatmates' stuff) here are some tips from my experience:

  • Unless it is going to be very expensive, it is better to have too many boxes than too few!  Otherwsie you may end up throwing away non essential items!
  • You will almost certainly have more stuff than you imagine
  • If you will be be packing on behalf of friends, make sure their stuff is packed into boxes before they leave

Once you have packed your belongings into storage you will of course need to pack some luggage to take home.  It is not easy to limit yourself to two suitcases! In fact, I needed the help of a flatmate to sit on my suitcase so that I could finally close it.

Saying goodbye to my view

Saying goodbye to my view

After realizing that you are finally ready to move out of university accommodation, you may well be hit by nostalgia. Living on campus is a great experience, but eventually you will need to catch a bus/train/taxi to the airport. After landing hopefully your patents/friends/family will pick you up and drive you home (otherwise it is more travelling with luggage on public transport, which is not always fun!).

I just want to say that the life as an International student can be difficult, but it is definitely worth it. Just start thinking about and planning moving your stuff early! I know that I will miss the University of Bath during the summer, not least just seeing the ducks around campus!

 

Life on campus during the lecture breaks

  ,

📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to spend the bulk of the Easter break on campus in Bath rather than spending an extended period of time back at home. This was mainly because of the rowing training camp but it has also turned out to be beneficial in other ways so the purpose of this post is to give you a taste of what life is like on campus during the lecture breaks.

Your accommodation is paid for throughout the Christmas and Easter breaks and so you are entitled to use your room if you wish. This is a real bonus and there are no worries about having to empty your rooms during the lecture breaks as is the situation at some other universities. This gives you great flexibility and the choice of spending as much time on or away from campus as suits. You may imagine that staying on at university during the holidays would be a very lonely and quiet existence  but I hope to assure you that it's actually far less lonely than you think and that it is actually quite good fun....

The very noticeable difference about being on campus during the Easter break was the lack of people about the place, but this wasn't all bad and it did not mean that you were lonely - it simply meant that the campus was less busy. When not rowing, I enjoyed the peace and quiet - living with slightly fewer people to distract you means the weeks in halls can be very productive indeed. It also brought added practical advantages like the luxury of extra fridge space as many from my halls moved out for the fortnight and I was able to take over their shelf allocation in the kitchen!

For students in their second, third, fourth and fifth years of study, life goes on, so it was not a complete ghost town. In fact, the Mechanical Engineering department still retained the lively buzz of academia even outside of term time as project work ramps up towards the end of the semester. Despite the very apparent lack of students, lecturers still roamed the corridors and offered a bemused smile when they saw that you were still around.

As for the rowing, despite the dodgy British weather, spirits during rowing training camp were as high as ever. Everyone on camp was there to row without the pressure of lectures which made for a brilliantly laid back atmosphere about the boat house. Big social events were planned for the evenings to ensure that our days were filled and it did really feel like the rowing team ended up living together during course of the week!

Training at rowing camp

Training at rowing camp

As the days progressed the weather got better and better- this meant not only was the rowing superb but it allowed us all to wallow in the sunshine and the boathouse even played host to a few BBQ's throughout the week. Suddenly, with the aid of a few rays of British sun, the long days at the boathouse didn’t seem so bad at all. Being on the River Avon when the weather is good makes all the difference - the punishing training schedule in preparation for the BUCS regatta in a fortnight's time feels far more manageable and the grumbles disappear. The going is good...

The other great thing about having all the University resources so close to hand during the break is that you’re really able to move forward with any of the academic work you have to do and you can even hand in finished pieces. It was wonderful having the CAD labs and A3 printing facilities at my disposal – there was no queuing for printing either - dreamy! This was just another bonus of being on campus - I was able to get things checked off of the ‘to do’ list in time for everyone’s return to lectures.

As the final semester of Freshers' year draws to a close, attentions turn to revision and preparation for a second bout of exams. With this in mind it was a relief to be able to get so much done during the break and return to lectures with a clear mind. I was able to start lectures (and training) on the Monday knowing that, not only had my rowing improved, but I was totally organised, prepared and ready for the challenging few weeks ahead.

The home stretch...

As for the next few weeks, they will undoubtedly be some of the most fun but busiest weeks of my life. My water training sessions prior to BUCS Regatta can now be counted on my fingers and, following that, my exams begin in earnest. Not only does this mean that the next few weeks will be crammed to the gunnels with work and sport, but it also means that my first year is very quickly drawing to a close. For me this is bitter sweet. In many respects the year has seemed to fly by far too quickly making exam time a tad stressful, but I cannot help but think that the fact that I’ve had so much fun in my first year at Bath is what has made the time really fly. I am stunned as to how far I have come in just under a year (it’s felt like a month), and it’s great to be able to look back and see how much I have achieved and been part of during my time on campus.