Getting a placement
Firstly, I just want to mention, don’t panic in second year when all your friends are starting to secure their placements. I didn’t get mine until the end of February, which I thought was late. But I know other people who didn’t get theirs until the start of summer and in summer. So, if you’re already stressing about finding a placement, please don’t. Just keep looking and applying, and you will find one. There is a placement for you out there, there is for everyone.
Regarding my placement, I am currently working at the children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre (CHERC) in Exeter until March. ‘CHERC initiates research in paediatric exercise science to enhance our understanding and optimising exercise, physical activity and sport that determines health and well-being, in a range of different paediatric groups, including healthy school aged children, children with chronic diseases and talented young athletes.’ However, due to COVID, research has been impacted and I have little hands-on time with paediatric patients, which is a shame.
Then I am moving to Bristol children’s hospital for the last 5 months, and I will be investigating the clinical use of Bio-electrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) in paediatric oncology patients.
I’ve found that placement year living is very different but similar to first year student accommodation living. Different as you are working and possibly won’t socialise as much as first year, but similar as you have to meet people either whom you’re living with or people from your workplace.
Adding to this, which can help you, Uni put together a huge excel spreadsheet with everyone in your year, all courses, on placement with their emails and where they are located. I know plenty of people this year who have emailed people off that spreadsheet and said, ‘my placement is in London too, do you want to meet and maybe live together?’ and I honestly think it is such a good thing, as you can make new friends from different courses but also, live with people of your own age that you know. Unfortunately for me, no one else had a placement in Exeter!
Live with other students/professional workers
As I don’t know anyone in Exeter, I was planning on living with other professional workers, however, finding housing for me was very difficult, so I ended up living with 3 other students. But this has worked out good for me as they are people to talk to and are new friends.
This also depends on whether you have a 9-5 Monday – Friday job in an office, if this is the case, I would recommend staying with professionals as they are also working so noise etc won’t be a problem, whereas living with students, as we both know, can be loud and messy at times.
I would recommend living with others and not in a studio apartment purely because I know I would drive myself insane if I didn’t see people. But also, for the sense of ‘uni life’ still, chatting and socialising with people.
Explore your city
But more to the point, exploring your city will allow you to feel more comfortable and ‘at home’. Find new shops, new bars, and restaurants which you can go to with your new friends, old friends from home or uni or your family. I’m sure your parents like mine will want to know all about the city and how you’re settling in when you start. Exeter itself is a lovely city, a beautiful cathedral, quay, amazing bars, and the Christmas markets stalls are up!
I didn’t know anyone in Exeter, but I knew of people through my friends. If you are in the same situation as me, do what I did- just reach out. I felt so much better doing this as now I have people to see and socialise with, even if it has just been doing work together! Sometimes it is nice to be in someone else’s company. But don’t get me wrong, I love my own time and space in my room.
Additionally, get to know who you’re living with, they could be friends of yours too. I sit and eat dinner with my house mates occasionally or watch a film all together. It’s a sense of not being alone and being in people’s company- it’s a good distraction from missing home. Also, make sure to keep in touch with your friends and family, face-timing and messaging as this will help if you’re missing home.
Also, get yourself out there in your placement organisation. Ask to be added to the work group chat, attend the social events they do or even sit in the foyer for lunch. It is the small but big steps which will help you to get your name out there and additionally, make friends and socialise, which are important for placement year.