It’s strange to think that at this point in time, I’m now halfway through my university journey. Two years of being a Bath student have flown by, and soon I’ll be on my placement year. The past few months have been a step up from the first year, not just in workload, but also in growth. I’ve definitely learnt some lessons and picked up new skills - but also expanded my circle and ticked a few things off the bucket list.
Living in Town
The second year, for us, had one major change from the first year – things that were shut during the pandemic were finally open. This meant everything like lecture halls, cinemas, bars and clubs were open! In a sense, this was like a proper first-year experience for us, considering we were in lockdown for a good part of our actual first year.
It was refreshing to have dinner with friends after a long day of work, and even more fun to spend all night out and grab Jimmy’s cheesy chips on the way home. I know most of us turned 18 whilst the pandemic was at its peak in 2020, meaning we had to wait two years to be able to enjoy the nightlife – but it was worth the wait. Bath’s nightlife might not be nationally renowned, but it’s a bonus when the bartenders recognise your faces.
The city also had so much more to offer this year. There was a nice Christmas Fair complete with a carousel in December, and of course, Warleigh Weir was a hotspot in the June heat. There was so much more for us to do that it was hard to be bored in our free time.
Another change was that instead of living on campus, most of my friends and I lived in town (mostly Oldfield Park), which was such a unique experience. There’s a lot more freedom you get when you’re in charge of your own place. It was so fun to stop by each other’s houses for dinner parties, movie nights, or even pre-drinks!
Some of my core memories include 8am drives to the beach to surf and having a casino-themed party for my 20th. Although living on campus is much easier (no disputes about taking the bins out!), living in town is a taste of what it’s like to be an adult. Whilst bills and cleaning can be annoying, the independence of living on your own is unmatched.
Campus & Lectures
2020 freshers who lived on campus will remember just how empty it was compared to this year. It was a pleasant surprise to see campus so full of people when I started attending lectures at the beginning of this year. Although I had adjusted to Zoom lectures and online learning in the past year, it was a pleasant change to learn in person.
An aspect I liked this year was being able to do group projects in person. I had two group courseworks this year, and we had to write up reports, code systems, and give presentations, all in-person – which were quite new experiences for some of us. I also really enjoyed getting to know my coursemates outside of these projects and bonding over our hatred for the maths modules we had!
I did underestimate how much harder the content would be though – and I soon became swamped in coursework during the first semester. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult, but that’s expected as you advance through your degree. If anything, I improved my organisation and time management skills by tackling various projects simultaneously. Panopto was a lifesaver when I fell behind on lectures – and that did happen quite a lot!
Finding a Placement
Most second-year students have a placement year included in their degree, so there was also the added issue of finding one. I remember interview prepping, attending placement sessions, and spending all night researching positions until I finally got one.
The period from October to February was particularly a stressful one, as that was when most of the positions opened, and interviews were held. I was extremely lucky to get the placement I wanted the most, and I’m looking forward to starting it in September.
My tip, if you’re going into your second year and are doing a placement, is to apply as early as possible, and make sure you’re genuinely interested in the role. The sooner you get a placement, the less stressful the rest of the year gets. Also, don’t just apply for roles for the sake of applying – if you’re enthusiastic about the position, this will reflect in your interview and boost your chances.
Ending Second Year
As sad as I am to be leaving Bath and being away from the city and my friends for the next year, there’s a lot to look forward to. I’ve loved the challenges and the opportunities that the second year gave me, and I wish I could relive it all again. But now, it’s time for a relaxing summer before the next academic year starts.