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Life as a student in Bath

Tagged: Societies

Surf 2k17 Moroccan Adventure

  

📥  Karolina (Psychology)

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

  

📥  First year, Rob (Physics)

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, Joseph, Second year

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, Ruth

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

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

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

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

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

One of many societies you can be part of!

One of many societies you can be part of!

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

Valentine's themed bake!

Valentine's themed bake!

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

 

Bath Snowsports Ski Trip 2016

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

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

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

Three Valleys Piste Map

Three Valleys Piste Map

Travel

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

Food & Accommodation

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

Our great value apartment

Our great value apartment

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

Our accommodation

Our accommodation

Skiing

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

Pro skiers

Pro skiers

Après

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

Après on the mountain

Après on the mountain

Money

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

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

 

Ich bin ein Berliner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing German food and beer

Embracing German food and beer

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

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

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

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

 

My role on rowing committee

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph, Second year

As you should all know by now, ever since I started at Bath, rowing has been a big part of my life at university. In my first year I was lucky to be selected to row in some of the top novice crew boats. This led to training twice a day, every day, throughout the second semester of first year and I had to devote the majority of my weekends to the boathouse. Although this may sound like a burden, I believed, and I still believe, that it was great to do something at university to take my mind off academia and coursework. This year is no different, but for completely different reasons. Let me explain why…

Towards the end of last year, I put myself forward to be elected as one of the Novice Captains for the boat club. Fortunately, I was elected, and this year I am a Novice Men’s Captain – a hefty responsibility.

Rowing training at the University of Bath

Rowing training at the University of Bath

Being part of a sports committee is a much bigger job than I could have possibly imagined but I am enjoying it much more than I ever thought I would. In addition to my studies, an average week at Bath now involves arranging crews, organising novice rowing sessions, coaching the novice rowers from the motorised ‘launch’ coaching boat, attending committee meetings as well as endless administrative tasks. The administration involved with committee work has been the biggest shock to me, but it is also very rewarding. I very much enjoy being able to answer the thousands of questions the novices pose, whether rowing related or just concerning day to day life in Bath. As a whole committee we need to make important decisions about the direction that the club is moving in and, most rewardingly, we need to enter our novices into as many races as possible.

Due to the strength of the committee team this year I am proud to say that the boat club has entered novices into more races than ever before and by entering small events, we have even won some mugs! Last week, we entered a record number of five crews into the University of Bristol Head on the River Avon. This is the first big event of the year and although as a novice, I raced at this event, I did not realise the amount of time and effort the captains had to dedicate to organising crews and making sure everybody and everything is in the right place at the right time.

UBBC Head race

UBBC Head race

In semester one alone I have learnt lots of new skills from my role. For example, I have had to liaise with the professional university coach and arrange for boats to be delivered from nearby boat clubs for our novices to race in. This took lots of planning given the busy timetable of my engineering course and the pressures of coursework submissions which are constantly niggling away in the background.

I am often asked by the hundreds of novices that have signed up for rowing whether it is worth the amount of time we have to commit to captaincy. My response is always the same; although I have had to forfeit my chances of rowing competitively as a senior this year, I have met lots of interesting people and feel like a massive part of the club without actually competing myself. The work we do on sports committee is so far detached from my course that it acts as a perfect respite from the busy schedule of coursework that second year engineers are faced with – this is brilliant news.

Early morning rowing on the River Avon

Early morning rowing on the River Avon

My role on committee at Bath also helps to juice up my CV. The Bath University Students Union is very aware of the amount of work we do and we are elegible for lots of awards and exciting opportunities solely because of our volunteering and organisation. In short, there are lots of hidden benefits to the job, thus making the 4.59AM alarm call and early mornings at the boathouse much more bearable.

Away from the course, second year IMEE is far from relaxed. More about this in my next post however…

 

Mountaineering in Snowdonia

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering, Second year

Snowdonia at Christmas sounds magical. A beautiful blanket of snow hugging the vast moorland, pulled up in peaks formed like a perfect meringue mixture to encase the mountains.

Snowflakes gliding elegantly from the heavens like well-choreographed performers as trees sway and clap endearingly, thrusting off dancers taking well-deserved rests on their branches as if to say ‘Encore!’

Well, at least that’s what I wrote in my A-Level English coursework.

The reality is much different. Fog. Rain. Coldness.

Should have checked the weather

Should have checked the weather

Yet, Bath’s Mountaineers are a hardy bunch and nothing will stop us ambling through the wilderness; map in hand, clinging onto our hoods with the other. We walk through thick or thin fog. Rain or hail. Hurricanes or gales.

Now I say us; this was my first actual Mountaineering trip, preceded only by one walk around Bath, one failed bouldering attempt and multiple socials. Well, I needed to get my money’s worth out of the club joining fee somehow.

Despite the disappointing lack of snow, the trip was really fun. Organised on the weekend after everyone breaks up for Christmas, it was the perfect end to the year. A chance to enjoy the freedom of no lectures and to relax – well maybe relax is the wrong word – before traveling home for the holidays.

We set off on Friday afternoon for a 7 hour drive to North Wales. I seriously wasn’t prepared for the journey time, I could have made it home to Carlisle in less time (though may have needed a boat for the last leg for anybody who has read the news recently). Yet, the journey gave us the opportunity to get to know each other and being friends with only 4 other mountaineers before the trip, I vowed to make at least one new friend. Particularly considering those four are ‘mountaineers’ like me who not so much mountaineer as socialise.

After getting lost on a country lane in the middle of nowhere, we arrived at this really cute house adorned with a log burning fire in the lounge, a massive kitchen and dining room and bunkbed styled dormitories – perfect for the 37 tired mountaineers who. Just. Needed. Sleep.

The next morning we emerged at half 8 only to discover a group had already left for a walk. Mental considering a glimpse outside confirmed that I personally wouldn’t be venturing into the unknown any time soon. I mean the rain was relentless and mature trees were buckling in the force of the wind. So much for the idea of snow.

A morning spent playing board games in front of the open fire sounded much more appealing, particularly when 8 soggy mountaineers returned midmorning to dampen the hall way and fill up the drying room. However, as the day progressed and the rain still didn’t yield, a group of us decided that it was our duty to our namesake to actually explore the surrounding area and set off on an exhibition to the nearest pub.

Almost there!

Almost there!

It was a treacherous walk over soggy moorland and through a slate quarry, during which we learnt that the Welsh do not care much for well sign posted public footpaths nor strong features that can be easily identified on a map. However, we had fun bonding over our saturated boots and freezing fingers, and enjoyed lunch together huddled under the emergency shelter (much like a bright orange parachute).

worth the treck

We eventually arrived in the centre of Llanberis after walking for over 4 hours through the bitter wind and rain, thus a quaint Café serving steaming hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows averted our attention away from the pub. From there we organised for a mini bus to take us back to the house so we could shower and change before dinner.

It is mountaineering tradition that each year we don our finest clothes and enjoy a festive meal together served by committee themselves. And what a meal it was; a full roast complete with parsnips, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce. Heavenly. The members were all to provide desert so it was a real feast of sweets. My caramel shortbread was obviously the winner though.

Group Christmas dinner

Group Christmas dinner

After dinner entertainment consisted of watching keen members attempt to ‘boulder’ around a table (aiming to scale the underside of the table without touching the floor). Mountaineers are such a crazy bunch – don’t fret though, we had a crash mat. Not wanting to make a fool of myself, I retreated to bed.

Now what’s a trip to Snowdonia without actually adding Snowdon to my repertoire of conquered mountains (current total 1)? Well, at least that’s what 7 of us thought. Despite the continuous rain which hadn’t wavered all weekend, we braced for the wind and began our ascent.

Not a pleasant walk I’ll admit but we did it. 2 hours up and 2 hours down was not bad considering our necks were aching from the continuous need to watch our feet in order to negotiate the rocky terrain and we could no longer remember what it felt like to be dry.

However, don’t let this put you off visiting Snowdonia. I can imagine myself quite happily strolling through the vast wilderness of North Wales on a sunny day and catching the train up to the café at the top of Snowdon in order to actually enjoy the views that the fog disguised.  Just make sure the café and trains are open when you go.

Sadly for us, we could only fantasize about a steaming mug of hot chocolate at the top.

 

 

 

How to run a society

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

During Freshers' Week people tend to put their name down for at least 10 societies. Obviously a normal human being cannot be involved with 10 societies and pass university as well. However, I would encourage getting involved with 1-2 societies and 1-2 sport clubs. I tried Lacrosse and joined German Society and the Baking Society. After the first semester I only stuck to German Society and when election time for next years committee came up I decided to nominate myself. Eventually I was voted as the Chair of the German Society. Back then I did not have a clear understanding of what the role would involve but I was prepared to spend some hours each week dedicated for the German Society and it seemed a fun activity to meet new people.

In the German Society we have 4 committee members – bigger societies tend to have more positions – Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Social Secretary. My role is basically to be the CEO of the society and do different things, a lot of them involve administrative stuff. The secretary is responsible for the communication with the Societies members. The Treasurer handles everything involved with money but as we do not have a big budget, this is not too complicated. The Social Secretary is there to organize the fun stuff – the socials!

Before the end of my first year, the handover from last year's committee to us happened. Basically, you have to fill out a lot of forms and just think about what you want to do with the society in the next year. For us this was a little bit complicated as our Treasurer and Social Secretary were on placement in Germany and Austria. However, we eventually did it and handed in all the forms (does not mean we will now stick to everything we wrote!)

During the summer I was only responsible for filling out forms for Freshers' Week. However, as I realised later, I only filled one out of two forms out. That is why German Society was only at Freshers' Activities Fair and not at the Societies Activities Day on Parade. We only realized that on the day of the Societies Activities Day as our society did not have a stall. I was quite depressed after I realized it was my fault. I thought we would not be able to get anybody to join us. However, it was also a chance for us. We were not prepared at all for the Societies Activities Day,  so it might have looked quite unprofessional if we had a stall. As we now had some days left to actually think about how we should decorate our stall for the Activities Fair we put a lot of thought in it. We baked cakes, made German bread, had sweets, and printed out flyers. It was quite a success and as a result we now have 58 official members.

Our German stall at the Freshers' activity fair

Our German stall at the Freshers' activity fair

The main thing societies do is to host socials. Our first social happened in the second week as we wanted to get involved with the new Freshers' as soon as possible. We wanted to start with a bang and organised two barrels of beer and German food.  Unfortunately, or should I say luckily, so many people showed up that we ran out of wine after half an hour. We clearly miscalculated how many people would actually show up, but the whole committee was relieved that so many people attended.

Promoting German beer!

Promoting German beer!

For the next few weeks my society has planned some socials, film nights and the Christmas meal. The biggest event we have though is the annual Berlin Trip- Wish me luck that everything goes well with the planning of it. *fingers crossed*

Here is my top 10 list of what I have learned so far about running a society:

1)   You should read EVERY e-mail the SU Society team sends you REALLY carefully
2)   Running a society involves filling out a ton of forms
3)   You meet a lot of people and by the end of the year you will have made new friends
4)   Being part of a society takes up a lot of time – do not only do it because it looks good on your CV, although....
5)   It does look good on your CV!
6)   Finding a date when every committee member can attend a meeting takes sooo long
7)   You have to be the n°1 fan of your society – if you are not passionate about your society then nobody will want to join it
8)   You talk about your society all the time and might even dream about it (mostly nightmares about filling out forms)
9)   You will get addicted on checking how many people have joined the society & how many people actually came to socials
10) It is a lot of fun and I would recommend it to anybody who is willing to spend some hours a week dedicated to your society

 

BUCS Weekend

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

For everyone who takes part in rowing whilst at university, BUCS weekends are of particular significance. Unlike most sports that you can take up at university, BUCS events are few and far between on the rowing calendar. For starters, getting boats to and from competition venues is laborious, time consuming and costly and, in addition to this, rowing is a sport that relies heavily upon amicable weather conditions. With this in mind, there are only two outdoor BUCS rowing events each year – the longer, winter head race and the ‘biggy’ – BUCS Regatta. As it happens, the novice category for BUCS head racing was cancelled this winter due to poor weather. This meant only one thing; everything came down to the BUCS Regatta…

So it was seen to that on one windy weekend in May, the entirety of Bath University Boat Club hiked up to Nottingham rowing lake for a weekend crammed with racing and inter-university rivalry. Right from the off the weekend was incredibly eventful, and, despite the gusty conditions, was enjoyed by all.

We arrived at our cosy Nottingham hotel to find opposing University boat clubs milling the hallways – a great chance to eye up the size of the competition for the following days. Any early night’s sleep was followed by an even earlier wake-up and breakfast routine before we headed to the lake for the day’s races at 6:00AM. Racing began for me in earnest at around eight o’clock in the morning in a coxed four; cold, wet, windy, but immensely fun.

Competing at Nottingham

Competing at Nottingham

The Nottingham rowing lake became an arena of sound and chanting as old rivalries surfaced and new ones took shape. Bath, like all other boat clubs present, gathered in front of the finish line to cheer on teammates – a brilliant atmosphere. Results were frantically announced around the steward’s enclosure. The four I had raced in in the morning had done well and were positioned to move forward to the semi-final for head to head racing.

During the periods of waiting in between racing it was great to be able to witness some more senior racing and relax with crew mates. It’s bizarre to think that I only met some of these people a few months ago and everybody already seems to be such close friends. I get the impression that every sports team in Bath has the same, very close knit, feel about it. BUCS events have also been great times to meet up with friends from other universities – everybody is in the same place for one weekend of the year and the chance to reunite with old school mates is not to be missed!

Before we knew it, our second and third races had passed us by and despite aching legs, choppy conditions and poor racing results we were still very proud of what we had achieved! No sooner had we come off of the water we were in the coach heading back to central Nottingham, the hotel and most importantly… dinner! Yet again, another huge appearance was made by all in the restaurants of Nottingham – a prime time to finally unwind and load up with the necessary carbs for the next day’s racing.

The following day went by with similar speed as I took part in the eights race. We put in a very similar performance on the day – finishing well in the time trial events but not fulfilling our potential in the head to head racing. A steep learning curve indeed! If anything, the results for the novice crews at the weekend only enthused us to train harder and continue rowing well into the summer break. We finished our weekend’s racing with our heads held high and having learned lots about the sport and each other.

Monday was a day for us to watch the remaining races of the weekend and finally properly relax and enjoy the sport as spectators. Right on cue, the sun came out and we were sent home with sunburn and dry clothes, hoorah! The bus back to campus was a sleepy affair. Following boat unloading in the evening we were all very keen to get back to the warmth and dryness of our respective bedrooms for a big sleep!

Alas, BUCS racing was over for another year and we now look forward to the summer regatta season outside of university semester dates. For me personally, it was time to return to the realm of integrated engineering ahead of my first exam in just a week’s time. A well-earned break from the boathouse was in store and academia was to take priority for a month or so. As always, I will keep you updated!