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Life as a student in Bath

Tagged: Societies

New semester, new experiences: Re-Fresh Week!

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📥  Undergraduate

It has come to that routine time of the year where all the students have gone into hibernation for the exam season. But fear not, for just around the corner lies Re-Fresh Week; the perfect excuse to sign up for more sports and societies and enhance my university experience.

Sports at Bath

I  am currently a member of the Ladies Sixes Hockey Team. We train twice a week with additional sessions for fitness and fun games. We play matches every Wednesday and have a social once a week; the socials precede the matches on Wednesdays and they take place at the one and only ‘Score’ night out. Each week there is a different theme for the individual hockey teams and believe me, the Hockey Committee can get rather creative. This season has had me and my Hockey Fresher Teammates dressing up as Oompa Loompa’s, horses, babies and plants, to name just a few.

The Ladies 6’s Hockey Team at Score

Societies to join

Even if sport isn’t your thing Re-Fresh Week offers many other societies that have something to offer everyone. Whether you enjoy music, dancing, baking, environmental awareness, business, or even want to seek out an enriching cultural experience, there is a society for you. If you are keen to explore your musical talent whilst at university then I suggest you join the MusicSoc or even stretch your borders and join the Bath University Student Musicals Society (BUSMS). Likewise, if you feel like dancing is your thing, then the BodySoc may be just for you. Other societies at the University of Bath include the BakingSoc, Vegetarian Society, People and Planet, the Irish society, the University of Bath Management Society and Bath Entrepreneurs.

Entertainment Central- The Media Suite

One of my favourite features of the University of Bath’s groups to join is the Media Suite – CampusTV, Bath Time Magazine and University Radio Bath (URB). These three groups make up the heart of media on campus, and provide the students with constant entertainment, news and humour. I am on the Committee for CampusTV and can safely say that it is an absolute blast; we cover various on-campus events (political and social), as well as create a monthly Score recap of all the weird and wonderful themes and night-out gossip. We even have our very own shows, which are student created and student led. We hold a monthly General Meeting where all CampusTV members can join in as we discuss the projects we have recently created and the ones to come, as well as taking ideas from students for new shows. If you enjoy filming, presenting or editing, or even just have an idea for a new show, join us. We have regular socials, exciting annual events (such as the upcoming Mediacon 2018 and annual Christmas Meals) and generally just have a ball working together.

Me with some of the campus TV team

Students' Union life

One great thing I have done which has really helped to immerse myself into university life is to become a Hall Rep for my Halls of Residence, and this is an easy way to get one foot in the door if you plan on being deeply involved in the Students' Union. As a Hall Rep, you are able to plan and promote fun social events for your flatmates and have the support and funding from the University Students Union to do so. Likewise, you can initiate Community Outreach events and fundraisers as well as sports socials. Being a Hall Rep also stands you in good stead if you wish to be a Fresher’s Week Captain in your second year as you are already greatly involved in the life of the Students' Union. Being a Captain is an amazing experience- you undergo training the week before Freshers' Week and then the party starts. You can either be an Event’s Captain (your main focus is on events management of Fresher’s Week) or a Residential Captain (you are directly involved with Fresher pre-drinks each night and work to get all the Fresher’s involved in the day activities.

On shift as an Event Captain during Freshers' Week 2017

In 2017 I was an Event’s Captain and my shifts included managing the main arena, overseeing various events, and manning the information points. On our nights off, as captains we were allowed access to the main arena and headline events. By being a Freshers' Week Captain, I was able to meet so many new people from different courses and integrate myself with the older year groups. If you come to Bath, I highly recommend applying!

 

Getting stuck into a society

  

📥  Undergraduate

You’ve probably heard all about the many different opportunities there are at university. The chance to learn about cultures from all around the world through meeting new people, gaining independence from your parents and moving to a new city, blowing most of your student loan on nights you won’t remember (I can’t say I’d recommend this) and many other things.

All of this may seem exciting for some but also quite daunting for others and trust me I was one of those who was a little daunted. One of the best ways I’ve found of settling in to university and making new friends is through joining a society. They are groups of students that are linked by a shared interest in a particular topic that meet together throughout the week. At Bath there are a huge range of different societies from the Knitting society to the Curry Appreciation society. They are all great for socializing and meeting new people, learning new skills you never thought you’d try and most of all for having fun.

If you come to Bath all the societies will have a stall in Freshers' Week at the Freshers' Fair so you can find out more about them there if you decide to come to Bath. In this post I’m going to talk about some of the societies that I’ve joined this semester and share some examples of things that I’ve done within them while explaining a bit more about how they work.

Juggling and circus skills society – Gravity Vomit

This was a society that I had researched prior to coming to university as juggling has been a hobby of mine for a number of years and I was keen to get back into it at university. I found out about the society by meeting some of the committee at their Fresher’s stall.

Each society has a committee that runs the society. The committee consists of a Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer. They get elected by members of the society through a voting process that happens each previous year (with the winners fulfilling the roles throughout the following academic year). The Chair heads up the society and should know about everything going on in the society from finances to new members coming in. The Secretary is the link between the committee and the other members – they are responsible for the communication of events and news as well as organizing meetings for the committee. The treasurer is in charge of the budget and finances for the society, making sure money is being spent effectively and in accordance with the budget.

After meeting the committee members, I was really excited to go along to my first session. We meet in art studios with high ceilings to practice juggling and other circus skills like diablo, plate spinning, unicycling and much more. Getting consistent practice in and having other people around me to learn from has meant that my juggling has improved massively, and I’ve picked up a few other skills along the way.

Our collection of juggling props

Not only have we had the regular meetings, but we’ve also had a range of socials events including skating, going to the pub, and a Christmas meal. These are a great way to get to know people with similar interests, and are pretty fun too. Other events include teaching groups how to juggle and the committee are planning a one-day juggling convention where over 200 jugglers from around the country will gather to learn from each other, compete, and to watch an awesome show at the end of the day. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Bath Video Game Society

I came across this society at the society fair at Freshers' Week and thought I’d check it out. It’s quite a large society and they run monthly LAN parties where they book a room on campus and everybody brings their own computers to play games together.

Despite the stereotype of gamers being somewhat anti-social, I felt very welcome on my first visit. Whatever game you’re interested in you’re bound to find someone whose played it and loves it as much as you do. The main games played were League of Legends, DOTA 2 and CSGO but with the classic Mario kart thrown in there as well along with a group of people playing some boards games together.

They ran some tournaments throughout the day and ordered in pizzas, so you could quite easily stay there for the whole day if you wanted to. I got involved in one of the tournaments and came third- it was an easy way to find people playing the same game and to talk to them about it (trust me I could go on for hours talking about DOTA).

Christian Union

Another society that I had looked into before coming to university was the Christian Union (CU). This society isn’t affiliated with the Students' Union so isn’t on its website (long story as to why that is) but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the largest and most impactful societies on campus.

The CU’s aim is to “To give everyone at Bath University the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ” and they do this in a range of different ways.

They have weekly meetings where we all gather together to get teaching and be encouraged in our endeavours whatever they may be. I’ve met so many different people on different courses, different years and a whole range of backgrounds. Everyone’s so welcoming and great to talk to – having people to learn from who have experienced much more than you and to have them looking out for you is so reassuring. Its like a little family.

Not only are there weekly meetings but the CU also regularly hold events that are open to anyone. During Freshers' Week every night at the chaplaincy members of the Christian Union give out free tea and toast to people coming out of the main arena events. They do this to bless those on campus and let people know about the CU – I helped out on one of the nights and it was so rewarding to just give to people and see the reactions from them (which really made the lack of sleep worth it).

Some of the food we made for events

 

One of the other things that I love about the CU is how keen they are to get everyone involved. We ran an events week, where we had loads of events all focused on the aim of the CU to spread the good news. Pretty much everyone in CU helped out with the events, with setup, making food, hosting the events and promoting everything. I tried doing things I’ve never done before and felt really challenged but grew so much through that experience.

Without a doubt, when at university it is really worth getting stuck into whatever societys you find yourself at home with – it is hugely rewarding and really helps to maker the most of your time at Uni.

 

Take part in an adventure at university!

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📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

Hoping to be a part of something spectacular at University? Secretly dream of being a performer? Look no further than the University of Bath’s very own A capella group: 'Aquapella'.

Amongst all the interesting lectures, coursework, nights out, and  more – a hint of music may be just what you are looking for. Aquapella is less of a group and more of a family, which opens doors to the most amazing experiences.

Just this past year the group excelled to new heights by competing in the International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s). Having placed 3rd at quarter-finals and 1st at the UK semi-finals, with one of their members being awarded ‘Best soloist’ for both of these rounds, they now hold the title of “UK National Champions of A capella 2017”. As if this wasn’t enough, the now UK National champs were invited to compete on Broadway in the Big Apple where they went on to win the International Award for Best Choreography. What a year it has been! How do I know? I myself was a member of the group during this unforgettable year.

Aquapella at the ICCA finals in New York

The inside scoop: the life of an Aquapella member…

Becoming a member of Aquapella is nothing short of an experience in itself. You start with a taster session where you can sing along with the group and get a feel for what Aquapella is like. Then there are the auditions and finally call-backs where the group will teach you some of their songs and see how you ‘blend’. Once you’re in, the fun starts!

Aquapella have the most exciting events on their calendar; from flash mobbing a TED talk, singing at School of Management Events, to flash mobbing a wedding (requested by the groom of course). You can most definitely catch Aquapella busking in the beautiful city of Bath on Saturdays and Sundays and if that’s not enough, you can even hire them yourself. But just before you think it’s all work no play, I can assure you that Aquapella’s social calendar is just as full with socials between the various A capella groups sprinkled across the UK.

Aquapella at the ICCA semi-finals in London

One of our first socials of the year was a karaoke night with the 'Bristol Suspension' A capella group, held at the Bristol University Students' Union. A few weeks later we travelled to Cardiff for a blast from the past with a decade themed social where each group dressed up to the nines of different times. In addition, to these socials, Aquapella holds their very own annual Christmas meal and Aquapella reunion night in December. These two nights are an all-time favourite where firstly, you get to indulge in the Christmas festivities such as turkey, mulled wine and Secret Santa, and secondly, new Aquapella members get to meet old members as well as the founder of Aquapella himself, whilst of course singing and dancing the night away.

Work, work, work, work

International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)

Getting to the top requires hard work but there was laughter all the way. Preparation for the ICCA’s involved vocal training, choreography, and great marketing efforts to fund the group’s travel. From Exeter for the quarter-finals, London for the semi-finals, and New York for the international finals I can safely say that the group bonded incredibly through this journey both on and off of the stage.

Edinburgh Fringe

Each year Aquapella travels to Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they rent out a venue and put on an hour-long show which takes your through a journey filled with laughter, inspiration, as well as ‘sass’ and leaves you in joyful tears. The Aquapella Fringe show is nothing short of really hard work – the group trains for two weeks to bring the sheet music to life and all members hand out flyers each day at the festival in order to bring the public to the show. Fringe is another incredible experience filled with yet more laughter, cooking rotas, board games, and special end of year celebrations.

Parading around the streets of Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival

Handing out flyers to a famous face at the Edinburgh Fringe festival

Aquapella, where to now???

Having recorded and released a music video for their single “Somebody Else” just this past year, Aquapella stays on the ball by recently having been in the studio recording a fantastic cover of “Purple Rain” (coming out soon). The group has also entered the Voice Festival UK this year! Keep an eye out for more details about performances, song releases, competitions, ball games, and more on their Facebook Page and their brand-new website. And if you do end up coming to Bath and feel that you’d like to be a part of Aquapella’s unforgettable adventures, then you should definitely put yourself forward for the Freshers' Week auditions. I am really glad that I did, and have learnt so much about music and myself by being a part of this very special musical family.

Some more photos from our time in New York City at the International Champs of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)....

 

 

 

Making the most of Bath: Latin and Ballroom Dancing

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📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

It’s fairly obvious to say that a big perk of being a Gold Scholar is the money we receive as part of the programme. One of the things I’ve invested this money in is developing a new skill while I'm at Bath… Latin and Ballroom dancing!

I go to two classes every week at the university: a beginner’s class and a technique class, both taught by professional instructors. The beginner’s class is where we learn the steps for each dance and practise them with a partner. It was definitely weird dancing that close to someone of the opposite sex to start with, but we’ve all got to know each other now so it’s much more natural! During the technique classes, we learn the finer details that make the dances look pretty and get us more points when competing…

Team Bath at the first competition of the season, in Southampton

Without a doubt, the biggest element of Latin and Ballroom at Bath is competing against other universities all over the country. There’s so much team spirit and support, even as a beginner you feel comfortable and confident dancing against other couples. I did my first competition after only 3 weeks of starting classes, and came away with 4 second places!

Medals and certificates from my first competition!

There's also a big social side. 'Social dancing' is held every week and is a chance to just have a dance and chat, and mix with different people. I've actually learnt a lot through social dancing because you get to dance with more advanced dancers and pick up some tips! Various events and trips are put on the committee too, some of the ones from last semester were ice skating, karaoke and a Christmas meal. There's also the amazing annual Winter Ball, held after Bath's competition in the Assembly Rooms (very very fancy...!).

Beginners group photo at Winter Ball

There’s no way I would have been able to afford to do all this without the money from the Gold Scholarship, so I’m incredibly grateful that I’m able to be part of one of the amazing sports teams and societies that Bath offers.

 

Being a student society committee member: Chem Ball MMXVI

  

📥  Undergraduate

Everyone wants to find their crowd at university. Everyone wants to find people they identify with, activities they love doing, events they look forward to attending. Some students will relate to course mates, bonding over late-night revision sessions and that one unanswerable question in the tutorial. Others will turn to societies, and peruse the hefty list of hobbies, values, and beliefs to find their people. For me, it was a winning combination of the two.

September 2014 was the month I became a chemistry student at Bath. All I ever wanted was to do was to be a scientist, and to belong in a department with like-minded people. As soon as I arrived, I signed up for the Bath University Chemistry Society: 'Chem:Soc', and that’s where it all started. I attended every social going, making new connections and getting to know my peers. The Chem:Soc Christmas meal 2014 was distinctly notable, as here was my earliest memory of the formation of my chemistry friendship circle. I’ll always think well of the West Gate pub for that!

The focal point of this year however, was the Chemistry Ball. Held at the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms, the night promised panache, class, and the opportunity to see our lecturers unleash their inner party animals. For the weeks building up the Chem Ball, I could barely contain my excitement! Little did I know that the Ball was going to very much shape my second year experience at the University of Bath, for this was the night that inspired me to run for the Chem:Soc committee.

ChemBall- it was just so fancy!

I didn’t have much time to mull this over – elections were in the weeks following the ball. This was probably a good thing because elections are stressful, and your irrational mind tells you that nobody will vote for you. I ran for the position of treasurer, faced with opposition, and decided to go full steam ahead with the campaign. My friend chose to run for chairman, and we both went in blind with nothing to go on but determination to help our fellow students find their feet as we had done in the year gone by. You can see where this is going; we both won our positions!

So Project Chemball MMXVI was born. The first thing we did was book the Pump Rooms eight months prior to the ball. Whilst we were looking forward to running all our socials, and providing points-of-contact for our members should they need us, we did everything within our power to host a party unlike one we’ve ever thrown before. We thought we were being super clever branding the ball with a Roman numeral trademark, linking the anno Domini ‘2016’ with the BC world of the Roman Baths. It was a project invested in by a curious cohort and executed by a strong committee (seriously committee guys – you’re the best).

My role as treasurer was hard. I was the right-hand (wo)man to the chair, and basically told him what we could and couldn’t afford to do. Getting my head around SU commission was tough; having to negotiate with restaurants and bus companies was out of my comfort zone. We even haggled with the Chemball caterers, something my meek conscience had never dreamt of doing. Everything we did, we did with Chemball MMXVI in mind. It was not cheap, we knew this from the start, but making profits on our welcome social, Bristol social, and Christmas dinner allowed us to subsidise the ticket costs and widen the inclusivity of our highly-anticipated night.

300 tickets sold to placement students, chemistry students, natural scientists, lecturers. The day of the ball had arrived! I woke up and immediately started to document the progression of the day; the morning in to afternoon, the afternoon in to evening. Lectures (really sorry) seemed to go on forever – we were just too excited (and at this point, ridiculously nervous). I rushed home to allow a shameful amount of time to get ready and then bundled into a taxi with the rest of the committee to go and get the party started.

It was a damp night which wasn’t particularly convenient for running around town carting speakers from cars to the venue, but alas, we managed. Having chatted to our event managers and double checked the quantity of champagne available, we were good to go. A queue started to form outside under the sleety skies, and suddenly everything felt under control and almost serene. From there on in it was relatively smooth-sailing. Conversations were flowing (as well as the wine) around the steely green water, laughter was bouncing from ancient wall to ancient wall, and my heart-rate was beginning to settle down. A black-tie event; I was overwhelmed with how smart everybody looked and the efforts that were made. Not that I didn’t think my peers were capable of scrubbing up well, I just struggled to believe that they were doing so because of an event that I’d helped to run.

The Roman Baths by night, as captured by our brilliant photographer Freddie

At 8pm sharp, we were called to dinner. A delightful array of soulful food in the most elegant of rooms. Towards the end of the meal, the chairman and I were allowed to climb up the balcony to take some photos of the dining room. This didn’t go unnoticed; suddenly the room started to applause in the kindest of gestures and I was stunned with the alien notion of feeling completely in my element (excuse the pun). My experience with Chem:Soc, as horrifically cheesy as it sounds, helped me to find my place in chemistry. It was a confidence-booster, a challenge, and a bonding experience with my peers. Yes, it was irksome at times, it was tiring, and it involved playing ‘mum’ on nights out. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Me and Robin (Chairman) enjoying the night

 

Surf 2k17 Moroccan Adventure

  

📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Undergraduate

During this Inter Semester Break, I have possibly had, what I would call, the best trip of my life. Paying £300 to go Morocco with Bath’s Surfing Society has most probably been one of my best money spending decisions to date. I’ve met so many wonderful people (surf soc and Moroccan surf instructors included), started a new hobby, caught some African sunshine, and on top of that managed to prevent the stomach bug I caught from ruining my trip. T’was a wild 7 days.

The trip started one dreary morning, when I woke up at 6am to get myself on a coach that was soon bound to leave campus.

(pic of fb post here)

Only properly knowing one person going on the trip with me- my housemate Richard- I was a bit apprehensive of how this trip was going to go. Worried about people being up themselves about surfing, I was unaware of the Surf Captain’s promise to make this year’s surf soc “more inclusive”. I was later enlightened about this new surf ethos but to be fair, the ethos could be felt as soon as I arrived. Everyone was lovely.

When we first arrived at our accommodation, it turned out Richard and I had to join up with other people to fill up an 8 person apartment. I knew two other girls, met on previous surf socials, so we had a four. 3 other people joined us. It’s amazing looking back on that moment, thinking how we didn’t know each other at all and comparing it to where we are now. There’s nothing than bonds you more to people than getting collectively crushed by the same waves, getting drunk together nightly and living in the same apartment.

And what an apartment it was! Every day after surfing, we would sit on the balcony, listening to Claudia’s music paired with the background sound of the waves crashing against the rocks, waiting for dinner, and watching the sun set.

Enjoying the Moroccan sun on our balcony

Enjoying the Moroccan sun on our balcony

We would have breakfast and dinner on a terrace with the ocean surrounding us:

breakfast

Del and I eating breakfast during our hangover

Lunch was reserved for the beach. We would spend entire days either on the beach or in the sea, doing our best not to drown. Our surfing instructor, Abdo, is possibly one of the most stereotypical surfers I have met. He would very often come out with the following types of great phrases:

• About surfing: “it’s not a sport; it’s a feeling”
• About smoking: “it’s good for nature; it kills people”
• About the relentless current pushing us in all the wrong directions: “it’s nature man”
• And my favourite: “Enjoy the short life.”

We have since adopted some of these phrases and learnt the meaning of “gnar”, “gnarly” and “shaka”, which were subsequently heavily overused during the trip and for some time after.

Practicing the all important 'shaka' symbol

Practicing the all important 'shaka' symbol

I’ll never forget the last day of the surfing trip, when upon contracting a stomach bug and mistaking it for a hangover, I lay sleeping on my surf board while everybody else enjoyed the last day of surf.

My low point of the trip

My low point of the trip

I felt like death but Abdo managed to make me feel better by sharing a story of one of his nights on the beach, upon which he drank so much vodka he couldn’t walk in a straight line. “Never again.” He said.

The sun setting on a great day's surfing

The sun setting on a great day's surfing

Speaking of nights on the beach, one of my favourite memories from the trip must be when we had a bonfire on the pebbly beach. It wasn’t the softest of beaches but that didn’t put anyone off coming down and lounging around the light and warmth coming from the middle of our circle. At one point, we decided to run down to the water and get soaked. The darkness of the water blurred with the night sky, distinguishable only by the brightness of the stars. I wish I had taken a photo.

Our final night campfire party

Our great campfire party

There are so many reasons why I loved this trip. These were just some of them. I would strongly recommend anyone coming Bath to come on this trip or to join the surf society here; however, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea so I’ll say this: when you go to uni, try that thing you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t worry about not being good enough or the fact you’ve never done something before or that you won’t make friends. You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take so throw yourself on them! You’ll thank yourself in the end.

Stay gnarly lol

 

Becoming a member of the mountaineering society

  

📥  Faculty of Science, Undergraduate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of my favourite views we saw on our walks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bath University Boat Club's Campaign at Head of the River Race 2016

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, Undergraduate

A little while ago I was lucky enough to travel to London with my Novice Rowers from the University Boat Club for their biggest race to date. The Thames riverside was packed for the annual Head of the River Race which attracts an array of clubs, schools, university teams and international crews. This year, as one of the Novice Men’s Captains, I have worked incredibly hard to get the Bath University Novice Rowers racing as much as possible and, despite the quality of the competition, the Head of the River Race in London was not to be an exception on our calendar. Collectively, thousands of hours of training had led up to this race, including tens of early morning sessions in the build up to the event. It was going to be make or break for my Novice Men and right from the off I was very proud indeed.

Having loaded the rowing boats onto the trailer in the early hours of Friday morning before heading to lectures, it was an early night for everyone prior to a very early departure to Putney on Saturday morning. The majority of us travelled by car to the capital city and were quick to unload and rig the boats in Putney along the side of the river. It is very rare to see so many rowers (let alone rowing boats) all in one place and it was an amazing experience for everyone involved.

Due to enormity of the event, the novice rowers were quick to boat on the Thames and ended up sat in boating queues for a huge amount of time. Although cold, this meant that they were fully immersed in the racing shortly after arriving and could focus solely on the job at hand – completing the course in as little time possible. The course, which is traditionally the reverse of the Oxford Cambridge boat race course, was their longest race of the entire calendar and hence was set to be gruelling! It wasn’t long before myself, as a captain, and all of the other spectators who had made the trek from Bath, set off towards Hammersmith Bridge to watch the event unfold.

The Novice crew in action

Once propped up along the railings of Hammersmith Bridge (which was very cramped due to the sheer numbers of people watching the race), it was time for racing to begin in earnest, with the fastest international crews being let off first. Senior University teams were quick to follow; Bath University Championship VIII being no exception. It was great to see the senior crews put in a strong performance and hold off arch rivals Bristol, over the length of the course.

Some of the crews taking part in the Head of the River Race 2016

It wasn’t long before both of my Novice crews made an appearance in the distance and everyone associated with Bath began screaming words of encouragement. Coming through the bridge, both teams looked incredibly strong with no obvious faults in technique or mechanical failure. This made the day even more exciting for everyone in London. It was the first time in years that Novice crews had raced the HORR course, let alone completed it with such confidence. I was incredibly proud and relieved to see that all of our hard work over the course of the year had paid off. All rowers came off the water with beaming smiles, although exhausted they had clearly enjoyed the experience and were delighted to have been part of such a prestigious sporting occasion.

Once warm and dry it was time to de-rig the boats and load them back up onto the trailer before making a speedy exit and heading home. We all made it back to Bath safe and sound, but most importantly, we made it home just in time for a team meal out in the city centre followed up by a round (or two) of well-earned drinks.

As the mad weekend of rowing and racing came to an end it was swiftly time to return to our studies on Monday morning. There’s never a dull moment in Bath! Having said this, it is impossible for rowing folk not to be excited about the hectic season of regatta racing coming up after exams. The summer cannot come quickly enough…

 

A Social life: having one and funding it!

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

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.

 

Bath Snowsports Ski Trip 2016

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Undergraduate

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!