Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Tagged: Volunteering

Being an Academic Rep

  

📥  Gold Scholarship Programme

One of the biggest parts of the Gold Scholarship Programme is doing 50 hours of volunteering each year… this can be pretty daunting, especially for me as a pharmacy student with a very busy timetable! The way I’m getting the majority of my hours completed is by being an Academic Representative for my course.

Academic Reps are the ‘voice’ for students on their course.

We cover any sort of academic issue (the hint is in the name), such as receiving feedback for assignments or encouraging the recording of lectures. It’s a great way to make a change and ensure we have the best experience as students!

All of us come together for the annual academic conference to learn how to make the most of our roles

Every month, we have two meetings to attend and these are our opportunities to raise any issues. One meeting is with the Director of Studies for your course, accompanied with a selection of lecturers and other key staff – this is where you talk about course-specific issues. The other meeting is with other Academic Reps and the SU Education Officer, to discuss any university-wide problems and share tips and successes.

Eager Academic Reps queueing for free hoodies and goody bags

Obviously the main perk for me, as a Gold Scholar, is the volunteering hours! We also get free lunches at meetings (some have even included a Krispy Kreme doughnut…) and a free hoodie and goody bag at Academic Conference – this is a day-long event with lots of workshops about how to create change. But overall, it's just fab to be part of improving my degree for both current students and future students in years to come.

 

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

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

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

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

Early mornings at the gym

Early mornings at the gym

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

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

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

The vegmead vegetable plot in early spring

The vegmead vegetable plot in early spring

The one and only, Rodney the Rhubarb!

The one and only, Rodney the Rhubarb!

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

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

 

Conquering Kilimanjaro : Poa Kichizi Karma Ndizi

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering

All I remember is seeing the peak in the near distance and thinking that’s it, I’ve almost done it. After four and a half days, we were finally only 45 minutes from our goal.

Two hours later and we were cursing our ever the optimistic guide but we were there. We had made it. Somehow.

I swear I slept the majority of the time it took us to crawl from Steller Point (5756m) to Uhuruh Peak (5895m). Looking back, I think we must have had a 5 minute nap for every 10 minutes of walking - I never knew rocks could be so comfortable.

Before I set off, I never could have imagined how physically exhausting yet enjoyable this trek would be. I was naïve to the physical intensity of walking each day carrying a rucksack containing 4 litres of water, and to how many nature pees drinking this much would entail.

Our adventure began when we landed in Kilimanjaro airport at 2am local time and our luggage was strapped to the roof of a mini bus for an hour journey to the hotel in which we had our first taste of African ‘roads’. At least the jolts and bumps kept us awake.

K1

Ready to go!

We had a day at the hotel to recover before beginning the ascent the next morning, so naturally we jumped at the chance to visit a nearby orphanage rather than sleeping. With a tour guide from the hotel, myself and three other girls set off to glimpse our first proper sights of Tanzania. On the way we stopped off at a shop to buy sweets for the children, $10 for two packets of sweets and our guide received two ‘free’ cigarettes – something strange happened there.

A thumbs-up at the local orphanage

A thumbs-up at the local orphanage

To end our tour, our guide took us on the scenic route back to the hotel through the maize plantations and passed his ‘friend’ the witch-doctor. Needless to say we were thankful when we discovered his friend wasn’t in. Though to ease our disappointment our guide took us to his own home where we met his wife (slightly bewildered as to why there were four British girls in her house) and children. You can imagine it was quite an awkward experience with us all told to sit on their marital bed but it was an interesting insight into how the locals live. Afterwards, we persuaded our guide to walk us back to the hotel without stopping for coffee at one of his friend’s shops and he arranged for a driver to take us into the centre of Moshi (the nearby city). It was getting dark by the time we had finished looking round and bought souvenirs and we were eager to get back to the hotel. Suffice to say, we had some stories to tell the others when we got back - they didn’t even know we had left.

Disaster struck the following morning 15 minutes pre departure to the base of Kilimanjaro with both mine and my friend’s camel-packs breaking. I don’t know who thought a sack of water with a tube attached that you drink from was a good idea because as the sopping bed sheets we left in our room indicate, it’s not. There was a mad dash to buy another water bottle and more water before we set off. Probably not the best way to start the adventure – stressed and wet.

At base camp

At base camp

Our climb began after signing in at Machame Gate (1640m) and taking the obligatory photographs whilst our permit to begin the ascent was being processed. The fact that we were actually climbing the highest peak in Africa was yet to sink in and there really was not much difference between this walk and climbing Bathwick Hill albeit with walking poles and stunning scenery of the rainforest. Stopping regularly for a piece of our packed lunches and the inevitable nature pees, the morale of the group was really high. I guess it’s easy to bond with people after accidentally hitting them with a walking pole – I gave up with my poles after day 1, I just couldn’t coordinate my hands and feet.

We reached Machame Camp (2850m) after about 8 hours of walking to find that our tents had already been set up, the porters are truly incredible. Not only do they carry our 15kg bags on top of their own gear, but they walk twice as fast as us.

The next morning, we were awoken at 5.30 after a sleepless night of tossing and turning in which I think I must have eventually managed to drift off just before the time to wake up. Typical. After breakfast of porridge (runny gruel) and cold toast we set off, leaving the glades of the rainforest and ascending a rocky ridge to Shira Camp (3847m). Lunch was served when we reached camp then we embarked on an altitude acclimatisation trek up to 4000m in which people began to show signs of altitude sickness. Personally, I felt fine apart from tiredness - the lack of sleep from the last few days had caught up and I fell straight to sleep after tea that night.

Day 3 was a much gentler incline but with the increasing altitude many people were struggling. I ended up walking with one of the guides most of the way to Lava Tower (4630m), at 23 he’d already ascended the mountain over 60 times and he explained that to become a guide you have to climb up and down carrying all equipment in 3 days. That made our 6 days look pitiful in comparison and we had someone else carrying our things. He taught me some useful phrases to say in Swahili to add to my repertoire of ‘Jambo’ (hello), ‘Mambo’ (Hi, how are you?) and ‘Asante Sana’ (Thank you very much). In response to ‘Mambo’, I could now say ‘Poa Kachizi Karma Ndizi’ (Crazy cool like a banana) which always made the porters laugh – probably at my accent or lack of.  The talk turned more personal and he told me about his life away from the mountain (he gets only two weeks rest between each ascent) and asked me if he could add me on ‘Facebook’ when we reach the bottom and if he could show me his room in Moshi. Luckily I would be going on Safari the day after the mountain so there would be no time for such sightseeing.

Lava Tower was our stop for lunch then we descended to Barranco Camp (3976m) to sleep. The motto is walk high and sleep low. After breakfast we were faced with the task of scaling Barranco Wall, our first taste of actual climbing – hands were required to pull yourself up and at tricky points the helpful hand of a guide. It was here that the true fitness of the porters was shown, they nimbly negotiated the rocks effortlessly whilst balancing a huge bag on their head. Amazing. Just like the view from the top of the wall. It was bizarre standing above the clouds and peering down to an expanse of white, you could really sense just how high you had climbed. Yet, behind us the imposing snow-capped peak still felt out of reach.

A rewarding view

A rewarding view

We slept for 3 hours at Barafu Camp (4673m) that night before beginning our ascent to the summit at 1.30am. In the pitch black, with only our head torches to light our path, we shuffled along wearing all the clothes we had brought to shield us against the bitter cold. The sun rose at about 6am offering a little bit of extra warmth and teasing us with the view of the peak – still so far off.

Sunrise from Kilimanjaro

Sunrise from Kilimanjaro

But through sheer determination, 32 out of 34 of us made it to the Roof of Africa. We had completed our challenge and raised an outstanding amount of money for The Children’s Society. Even now as I write this, I cannot believe how much I have achieved in my first year of University.

Uhuru peak- the roof of Africa

Uhuru peak- the roof of Africa

 

 

In which I use my Children’s Society T-shirt as Pyjamas

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering

My charity sash has been officially hung up, my stickers disposed of, and my collection buckets cast aside. No longer will my life revolve around raising money. I might actually be able to spend my Saturdays doing something fun rather than baking cakes. I might actually have a lie in on a Sunday. I might actually have time for my course.

If you haven’t already guessed it, I’ve reached my fundraising target!

In just under 6 months, I have raised over £3000 for The Children’s Society. Man that feels good to say.

I exceeded my target last night with funds from a quiz my friend and I had organised. She is raising money to go to Honduras next year where she will be volunteering for 2 weeks with a charity called ‘Operation Wallacea’, an organisation dedicated to promoting eco-tourism and conservation in developing countries. So combined, we were raising money for both children and animals. Bingo. Who could resist?

Fundraising2

The quiz

Speaking of bingo. The quiz had a twist (my Dad got a bit carried away when he was asked to be question master). Along with the usual rounds of questions, Dad decided to start with Bingo – the winner winning bonus points for their team. Dinner was served at half time, after which we had another bonus round which involved the teams racing to complete a dot to dot the fastest (my idea). We had the puzzle stuck to the bottom of one of the chairs on the team so before completing it, they had to first find it. One fell off when I walked past a table so I casually picked it up before they noticed – it wasn’t until I crawled under the table to secure it to the bottom of one of their chairs again that they gave me funny looks.

I also fulfilled my dream of watching grown adults play with straws when we set the teams the challenge of building the tallest tower solely out of plastic straws and blue tack. Honestly, it’s more fun than it sounds, even if one of my friends’ team bribed me for more blue tack and cheated by using the wall as support. Nobody was fooled though - they won the ‘boobey prize’ for finishing with the least amount of points.

Fundraising

Building!

I guess I can add pulling pints to my list of fortes now as I spent the night serving people on the bar. I now have a new sense of awe for people working behind a bar as pulling pints is much more difficult than I had ever thought. There is a real art to the perfect pint as the ‘beer drinkers’ kept telling me. I mean, who knew that the head needed to be of sufficient size or that the liquid should be clear sans bubbles. I’m sure it’s revolting either way.

Over 100 people turned up on the night to support our adventures. It almost got to the point where we had to stop letting people in – we only had one spare table and we had only provided food for 120 people. Fortunately, there was plenty of food for everyone, and the helpers got to share the left over lasagne and cakes whilst pretending to tidy up the kitchen.

£1200 was raised between us that night, and everyone was very supportive of our goals. However, some people kept telling me stories of how their friends had attempted to climb Kilimanjaro only to become a victim of altitude sickness and not reach the top. Honestly, I did not want to know.

I still don’t feel prepared to climb almost 6000 metres but is just over a month away. Better start breaking in my walking boots then.

 

What shall I do with my summer?

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📥  Alex, Faculty of Science

After fifteen years of six week summers, the same routines and plans and back to school on September 1st, university can sometimes feel a little strange. It never really crossed my mind exactly how long my summer was about to become, but over the last few weeks I've realised that I have a whole four months at home and more time to kill than I could ever have imagined.

Of course, I want a job. I'm a student for goodness sake! We're renowned for our distinct lack of money and ability to spend it wisely. Even if you do spend your loan wisely, it never seems to go far and inevitably parents are the ones who end up supplementing that loan. I need to work, there's simply no question. I don't mind what or where, and as someone who's never had any jobs before, I don't exactly have any tips (any that you have for me would be an appreciated comment!) so I won't try to give you any. What I will say however is- think about your summer. Of course money is important, but is there something that you could do with that summer that would make it even more worthwhile?

If you're a scientist, do everything you can to get some shadowing of lab work. It's tricky, but it's worth every shot you've got because it'll give you an edge when it comes to the placement year.

Spend time with your family and friends. Work and work experience are important but when you're away for so much of the year, making sure you keep those relationships going is important. Go on that family day out, sit and have meals together and visit your friends. Laugh, smile, relax and forget about assignments for a few months!

But something that's going to be a part of my summer and something that you should take time to consider is volunteering. By now you've probably realised from my blogs that I'm a volunteer for Girlguiding. I'll be taking a few days this summer to run a camp and a fun day, to give opportunities to children in my local area.

But that's not what's on my mind right now. Today, I'm sat on a train on my way home. A few hours ago I left a week long training course in the West Midlands. I've been training to be a monitor for an educational charity called ATE. What does that mean though? If I've learnt anything this week, it's that the work of a monitor simply cannot be explained. There's not any words to describe what our role is, because it is so many things. I guess the easiest way to say it is that I'll be spending a week of my summer volunteering on a week long residential for this trust. The children will come from all over the UK and the world, from all sorts of backgrounds, and they'll be attending summer camps called Superweeks. For one week I'll be a sister, a mum, a friend, and a role model for eight children. I'll be volunteering my time and I'll be making a difference.

Travelling home with new found friends!

Travelling home with new found friends!

Yes, money, jobs and family are important. Yes, you'll need time to yourself. But this summer, I'm giving you all one challenge. Go out there and make a difference. It doesn't matter what you choose to do, but be a volunteer, give some of your time and make another person smile. It'll be worth every second.

 

Putting the 'Fun' into Fundraising

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering

It is less than 3 months today till June 8th, the day I will be beginning my trek up Kilimanjaro and very possibly one of the last days of my life.

Having reviewed the itinerary for the trip, I’m having serious doubts about my physical capabilities for conquering a mountain. On the last day they expect us to wake at midnight in order to climb the final stretch to the top in time to witness the sun rising over the horizon. The paragraph goes on to explain that we then slowly descend and casually mentions that we will be “trekking for 16-18 hours” this day.  That’s more hours than I’m usually awake for.

Somehow when I signed up for this challenge, my only worry was my fundraising target of £2990. I was naïve to the physical intensity of the trek, and having never actually climbed a mountain in my life, the prospect of spending 4 days walking uphill seems very daunting. Yet, having raised over £2300, the adventure is beginning to appear increasingly real.

Collecting outside Tesco

Collecting outside Tesco

Looking back on all my fundraising exploits, I have no idea how I have managed to raise so much money. I am just thankful to everyone who has supported me in getting this far and – excuse my soppiness – but I have been truly overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family and random strangers.

Now you might think that raising money is solely comprised of bucket collections in which you don your best ‘puppy dog’ eyes (not difficult after being stood in the rain for two hours) and pester strangers into giving up their change. However, I have learnt that there are so many other things you can do if you are willing to give up the time.

I can’t remember my last Sunday lie in as for the past month or more, my friend and I have organised to sell tea, coffee and cakes to the congregation of many of Bath’s Churches. We now have a good repertoire of cakes that we can make in the limited space and faulty appliances of an Eastwood kitchen – not easy I’ll tell you. Especially as our flatmates constantly judge our baking with snide comments about breaking their teeth on the biscuits or laughing at our bowl of burnt chocolate after misjudging the microwave’s viciousness.

My Just Giving page- almost there!

My Just Giving page- almost there!

It has been an interesting experience going to the coffee mornings with my friend who has never been to a Church service before. On one such occasion, we thought it was a good idea to go out the night before meaning we had had very little sleep and my friend still appeared to be drunk. Not a combination I would advise when we had to stand through a 2 hour church service. Upon arrival at the Church she unknowingly agreed to being an Orthodox not realising that this was an Orthodox Church. This led to many peculiar looks as the congregation began their worship whilst she just stood there looking bewildered and I consulted my kindly donated ‘A child’s guide to being an Orthodox’. Despite being a little out of our comfort zone, our cake sale proved a huge success and we were even treated to lunch afterwards (though the jacket potatoes were a tad ‘al dente’ and a woman desperately tried to set me up with her ‘charming’ son).

Another sacrifice I had to make was turning down all of my admirers to bag-pack for loved up couples and last minute rose buyers on Valentine’s Day. Cupid’s powers were obviously in our favour though, as we managed to raise over £400 so I’m sure my potential dates understood – my cat was pretty upset though.

With every new donation came a surge of media requests interested in my story (well my local paper was interested anyway after my mum boasted about me at her keep fit class). It was safe to say I was not expecting a call mid-chip from a reporter seeking insight into my endeavours whilst at the pub with a friend. This was proceeded by many puzzled looks as I divulged information about my life, becoming particularly flustered as she asked me what I liked to do in my spare time. Err, I didn’t think I could tell her that I don’t actually have a life. Even with this stuttered interview and an even more awkward photoshoot involving posing by a tree donning the photographers camera bag (apparently I needed to look the part) it has led to a vast amount of support from my fellow villagers. So worth the paparazzi I’d say, though I never want to have to go through that again. I mean I basically said ‘yolo’ as my reason behind this trip.

Preparations are well under way for my last fundraising push; a Quiz Night with a twist in my local Village Hall. The twist being that as well as questions, we’re going to be setting the teams challenges. I have the Architecture department to thank for the idea of a task to build the tallest tower out of straws – something we did in Fresher’s Week which proved rather difficult. Though, I must admit those were some very artistic sculptures. Somehow, the sight of grown adults playing with straws proved too tempting not to include - I feel I might enjoy the quiz more than my guests.

I’m optimistic that by my next blog post I will have hit my target, yet, if not, my student loans comes through soon so I may have to make a very generous donation to The Children’s Society. I have until 13th April to raise the rest. Wish me luck.

 

In which I sang Silent Night to the Merry

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering

So the fundraising efforts continue as the days to the £2990 goal decrease rapidly and as a result weird ideas that once appeared too desperate are actually being considered.

My contact details are now on the notice board of every Eastwood residence advertising my services. Cleaning services that is - Eastwood being the only accommodation block without a cleaner. No takers yet surprisingly, though I did receive a nice email from one of my flatmates informing me of the blocked toilet on the top floor and asking me to politely sort it out. I refused for two reasons; one because no money would be going to charity for my efforts but probably most importantly because it was very disgusting. In the end, my flat mate armed with a big stick rescued us. Even though the evidence has been terminated and the culprit has yet to be caught, rumours of who did ‘it’ still linger.

There even was a flat vote to determine who was guilty when we did our ‘Christmas poll’/ ‘almost end of semester insult everyone’ vote. We created categories like ‘most likely to gamble away their life’, ‘worst dressed’ and ‘worst job prospects’ to add a bit of festive cheer to the flat.

I now proudly bear the title of best housemate. And who wouldn’t vote me when I organise sweet flat socials carol singing round the pubs in Bath? Surprisingly, some people refused to come with us on the pretence of ‘work’. It’s odd, I got the feeling they were embarrassed to be seen in public wearing a fabulous Children’s Society sash and some tinsel. But alas, a group of us set off to the pubs who kindly gave us consent to torment their customers with out of pitch versions of ‘Away in a manger’ and ‘Silent Night’.

The Cork was first being the closest; it’s prime location means it’s only a 2 minute walk from the bus station or 10 minutes’ walk from the bottom of Bathwick Hill for those – like me - who have promised themselves never to go on the bus. It is a pub renowned to students for pre-drinks before a night out or enjoying a nice meal and a pint when they don’t want to cook. Anyway, this place is usually full of students and we were going to sing to the crowd. The owner kindly offered us a free drink for courage and then we were up. It was awkward at first but we ploughed through several bad renditions of ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ whilst our flatmates kindly asked people for donations then we moved on.

The Cork

The Cork

The next pub was the Pig and the Fiddle which possibly has the best beer garden in Bath. Perfect in the summer months but not quite so great when you’re trying to project a tune whilst stood outside in December. Still, the patrons outside were kept warm by outdoor heaters and by dancing and singing along with us. Inside, it’s lovely and cosy and there’s a really friendly atmosphere -people who hadn’t even heard us sing were charitably giving us donations.

The Pig & Fiddle

The Pig & Fiddle

We proceeded to Adventure, a cute café during the day which gets transformed into a bustling bar come sun down. The owners were very generous, giving us a £20 donation to start us off then we began singing only to be joined by a group of very drunk – and very smartly dressed – men celebrating a 30th Birthday. It’s safe to say they detracted attention away from our bad singing and we sounded half decent in comparison.

We rounded our night off in The Bath Brew House where the smell of the warm mulled wine cider they were serving made us feel very festive for our last performance. So after we sang our chosen favourite carols and collected a few donations, we were happy to set off back up to the University after a brief look around the Christmas Market – beautiful in the dark.

£216.68 was raised from all the generous donations of the slightly merry pub dwellers that night, meaning I’m one step closer to climbing Kilimanjaro. Better start training then; New Year’s resolution to get fit I think.

 

Taking the Leap and Diving In

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📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Engineering

Time often acts in peculiar ways with minutes passing by in what seems like hours, or whole weeks becoming memories in seconds. Both sensations hit me as I crossed off the days until arrivals weekend with a feeling of anticipation and excitement. The weeks preceding the first departures for University blurred by in a succession of BBQs and river days until the dreaded first ‘last night out’. It’s strange, ever since sending off the much revised final draft of your personal statement being a Fresher is all you can think about, though when the time comes you long for more time to spend with your friends and family.

I was lucky, leaving mid-September meant I was neither the first nor last of my friends to head off thus I had time to say ‘goodbye’ yet not have to experience the feeling of being left behind. So after a succession of nights out; each one promising to be the last (or so I told my Mum) and my Facebook Newsfeed increasingly becoming filled with pictures of drunk Freshers’, it was my turn to go.

The 7 hour car journey felt like an eternity as we inched closer to my new city playing the game of ‘Spot the student’ at each service station and set of road works. A game which I’m pretty damn good at now – tip: just look out for pillows spilling out of car boots or hooded teenagers wearing headphones to drown out the sniffs of their parents as they realise their ‘baby’ is all grown up. I can imagine I would have been an easy spot for other bored families - your welcome – me, nestled in a den of coats and pillows in the back of our already too full Ford Galaxy. A fact that was amplified when we arrived and were greeted by too cheerful yet apprehensive volunteers to help unload my new life. I mean how can you tell two relative strangers that you couldn't decide how many folders you would need so decided to bring 11 or that you’re crying because the doorstop you made doesn't actually hold open your bedroom door? But alas we managed and I must say my room looks good.

My beautifully arranged room (and folders)

My beautifully arranged room (and folders)

Now for the kitchen and to finding a spare cupboard. Naturally all the prime spots were full but I found a decent free one next to the microwave (handy I thought) and was halfway through unpacking my sweet and sour source jars when I heard people enter. A Greek family who all proceeded to introduce themselves and shake my hand. Turns out they are the family of one of my flat mates who wasn't actually there, suffice to say I scuttled back to my room after that very awkward encounter.

My next greetings went smoother, I had already prepared my answers to the mandatory questions though I swear it would be so much easier if everyone walked around with a fact file badge and a map of England then we could get to the more important questions so much quicker, such as ‘Did you bring any spare weights that I could put in my door stop?’ or ‘Did you bring a sewing machine?’ Nobody had.

Despite this major flaw, they are all really nice and we’ve had no arguments yet, though I did have to resort to washing my hair in my sink as both showers were occupied. Thankfully, I haven’t quite been desperate enough to take my mum’s advice of peeing in the sink. I must admit I've been close on several occasions. Somehow the walk from my warm room upstairs to the loo in the middle of the night is not a very appealing adventure; though one which I've done many times especially in Fresher’s week after drinking too much erm…water.

Fresher’s week did not disappoint, with a different event every night it was well worth buying the official Fresher’s week wristband allowing free entry to all day and night activities. My particular favourite being the Toga party hosted by Greg James. I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I was that girl who had already cut up and sewn her bed sheet prior to arrivals thus I was pretty proud of my attire that evening. Gracefully though, I did help my flats mates replicate my toga style yet without the proper tools, it was difficult. Note: people are kind of crazy about fancy dress here so be prepared for plenty of weird ideas for costumes.

Not only did Fresher’s week provide fun stories every night (which incidentally can be read about in the Uni’s own, lovingly delivered, daily magazine, ‘Minty Fresh’), but it also gave you the opportunity to sign up for sports clubs and different societies, and most importantly to get the free Domino’s pizza at the Fresher’s fair.

Me, I decided to join the RAG Society which stands for ‘Raise and Give’. Together they raise money for 4 main local charities; Time2Share, Jamie's Farm, Forever Friends Appeal and Unseen. All of whom do amazing work to improve the lives of the local community. They raise money through various fun events such as the upcoming Paris Hitch (hitch hiking to Paris in the quickest time possible), a Take Me Out styled event and many more.

With RAG I’ve already spent the day dressed as an elephant (not a rat like some passers-by rudely thought) in Cheltenham armed with a bucket and the motivation to raise money. £72.44 for 4 hours was pretty good I thought. I also was a zombie for their Zombie apocalypse night on Halloween. I got to spend the night scaring my ‘victims’ in a dark lecture theatre. One of my best nights here, I must admit.

 The Children's Society: Helping underprivileged children across the UK


The Children's Society: Helping underprivileged children across the UK

I also jumped at the chance to climb Kilimanjaro for The Children’s Society in June this coming year. So now the only barrier between me and reaching the highest point in Africa is my fundraising target of £2990, oh and 5,895 meters. Will keep you updated on that one.