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By Jay | 2011/04/13 18:12 |
If you are a member of, or have ‘liked’ any of Aberystwyth University’s Facebook content, it won’t have escaped you that we have been competing in the first ever University Face Off competition!
A strange concept, I’ll agree, as it has nothing to do with league table results or official performance levels, but rather based on the support of the students.
So, how did it work?
- Students from over 130 British universities took part via Facebook
- Students had to ‘like’ their university
- Comment on their university logo
- Tag themselves in a picture of this logo
- Each of these activities accrued points towards each university, which were updated on a daily leader board.
You can probably guess by the fact that I’m blogging about this….. we WON!
With over 2.5 million hits to the page, the students of Aberystwyth voted us in first, showing that Aberystwyth is truly the most supported and best loved university in the UK. From the early stages, Aberystwyth stored the leader board, and the final result left the competition miles behind!
Winning this award is great for the University, where social media is becoming a massive part of engaging with the student community. The support the students have shown not only highlights the value we place on our time here in Aberystwyth, but indicates to the rest of the world why Aberystwyth is one of the best places in the world to be a student.
Well done Aberystwyth!
Link for more details – http://www.universityfaceoff.com/press.php
By Jay | 2011/03/23 20:44 |
So, continued on from my last blog about Freshers….
It takes a good few weeks to get properly settled into university life. Those starting weeks are crucial for making friends, understanding how the academic stuff works and working out your favourite cocktail in Cambrian!
Lecture wise, first year can vary based on department. I had around 18 hours a week when you include all lectures, practical’s and tutorials, compared to some of my housemates often just having 5! Although that fact that I was doing a ‘real degree’ generally accounted for the extra workload!
The university timetable is scheduled between 9am-6pm on weekdays, although everyone gets Wednesday afternoons off. Some days were brilliant, a lecture 1-2pm and then free for the rest of the day! Others had 9am starts, so it’s useful to start training yourself to get up when the alarm goes off! Living on campus right by most of the lecture halls is ideal for when you roll out of bed 10 minutes before a lecture is due to start – although as a more experienced student, I wouldn’t recommend it. Top tips for lectures – take notes, as you’ll be surprised how quickly information seeps from your brain as soon as you leave that lecture room!
Everyone will have a different experience of academic life, based on their department. Computer Science was a great department for me; so friendly and helpful! I had a personal tutor who would help me with any problems I had, plenty of helpful lecturers with an open-door office policy, and all the resources I needed to get my work done.
Your first year can’t be topped for the social life aspect! For me, my 2nd and 3rd years had a much higher workload, and as everything I did was then counted towards my degree, I couldn’t life the party life of a Fresher! Luckily, this is Aberystwyth, and there is always something going on!
The students union is a good place to start. Tuesdays are Comedy Night, where a bunch or travelling comedians come and put on a great show. Wednesday is Reload, which i can only describe as the cheesiest collection of 90s pop music know to man, although once you get there, you’ll love it. Friday is Quids In, whereby EVERY drink is just £1, so a very cheap night. Saturday tends to have a rotating theme such as Back to School, Beach Party and Headphone Disco. Being in Cwrt Mawr, I was right by the bar, so I could get a hand stamp from there and then have cheaper entry to the Union
For the daring, try venturing into town, which is bursting with pubs. There’s so much choice, all with their own themes and promotions, and you can then end the night at one of the clubs, Pier or Yokos. Pier is my personal favourite; at times you can feel the building moving as the pier sways!
We had some great nights out in the first year, some of my favourites including:
Carnage is a massive pub crawl in town, ending at the Union. Each event has a specific theme, and lots of challenges to do. In my time as a Carnage-goer, I’ve been a superhero, a Baywatch life guide and a geek!
Rave On at the Union is always crazy, so make sure you’ve got plenty of UV paint and bright clothes. You’ll soon learn that fancy dress is a key element of student life. Luckily, Stars in town has everything you need for whatever cotume you need!
Beach Party was one of my first theme nights at the Union, which they decked out with a motorised surf board and inflatables! They try and recruit some celebrities (well, sort of) for these events. In recent years we’ve had Dr Karl Kennedy (Neighbours), Aled Jones (Radio 1), S Club 3, and for the Beach Party, recent Neighbours departee Daniel O’Connor! Being in the middle of nowhere, big-name celebrities cant be expected, but whoever turns up usually puts on a great show.
There is also the May Ball, taking place at the end of the year is always a massive event. Thousands of student all pile into buses taking them to the main event taking place in Pontrhydfendigaid, just a few miles out of Aberystwyth. The venue has a massive stadium, a free fairground, headphone-disco tent, an oxygen bar and lots more. It’s also a chance to get all dressed up!
Other Social Life
I should stress that a social life in Aberystwyth doesnt start and end with nights out on the alcohol! There really is a wide and diverse range of activities going on. Make sure you try the Arts Centre, located right by the Union. They’ve got local and travelling theatre productions all the time, live music acts, a 3D cinema, and plenty of comedy shows. Jimmy Carr and Michael McIntyre are regualrs here – just make sure you don’t sit in the front rows unless you want to get DESTROYED all night; I speak from experience!
During the warmer summer months, the beach is always a good shout. You’ll find that at the first sign of sun, the flip-flows, shorts and sunglasses all com e out, and everyone flocks down to the seafront. I personally love taking my books down and pretending to do revision on the beach. We even bought a little dingy and went out in the FREEZING water!
A good night can also just be a night in. Being in halls, you’ll be surrounded by people to just hang out with. We often all piled onto a single bed and watched movies all night, or spent hours trying to beat each other at Monopoly. We were a little more unconventional and enjoyed activities such as Twister in the hall, gathering strange looks from anyone walking by!
You’ll find that friendships within your flat form very quickly! Your friends at uni become like your second family. Although we were large group, we tried to do everything together, including meals and also a massive Christmas party with Secret Santa!
Whilst some people mange of their student loans and overdrafts, many of students do try and find a bit of part time work during their first year to support their studies. The Careers department holds a database of all job listings in town which is updated regularly, and with the amount of bars, cafes and restaurants in town, there are plenty of opportunities – just look early!
I found work as a Student Ambassador for my department. I would work on any of the Open Days or Visiting Days held, generally showing people around, giving campus tours, answering questions, and also giving a presentation on student life here. Plus I got to wear the sexy student ambassador t-shirt!
Although this is generally far from anyone’s minds during the first few months of Freshers, I’d strongly suggest having a think about accommodation for the 2nd year. Because of the large student numbers, most 2nd years have to go into the private sector for accommodation (bar those with a disability, international status or a scholarship). We were smart and looked earlier, but others who waiting until after Christmas found their options were limited. You have a choice of looking via estate agents in town or going through a private landlord (usually friendlier). The Accommodation Office maintains a database of all properties listed by landlords, and they can help you find somewhere and sort out the contract. The best time to do this is certainly before Christmas! Work out who you’ll be living with, and then go house-hinting – its fun!
Plus by looking earlier, you can find the better places to live! We had a great house, with much bigger rooms than halls.
So, I reckon I’ve summed up both the fun and practical elements of the first year. It really is a blast, so have fun!
By Jay | 2011/03/11 16:43 |
It occurred to me the other day, as I was procrastinating and putting off my work, that I have mere months left of my degree. My time in Aberystwyth has certainly flown by, and it’s quite sad to think that this chapter of my education will be over soon.
As such, I wanted to put my thoughts to paper (or web in this case), and sum up what has been an amazing 3 years.
Who doesn’t love their freshers year? Absolutely, without a doubt the highlight of starting university.
I was nervous, very nervous in fact. I’d planned and prepared for months before, to the point where our spare bedroom had all the necessities I’d need to survive on my own for the first time (Expert Tip – everyone brings a kettle, sandwich maker and iron. Save yourself some money and don’t bother, especially as half of these are provided in the halls anyway). That first day travelling to Aberystwyth was chaotic on the roads, so allow lots of time for your journey. Being organised, I arrived nice and early, which gave me time to get unpack and ship my Mum back into the car before anyone else moved into my flat.
Moving into halls for the first time is a surreal experience. Everyone looks just a scared as you are; wondering who they’ll be living with, if everyone will get on, who’ll have the biggest room! In my case, it was I who enjoyed the largest room. Being claustrophobic can have its advantage, as I learnt when I arrived in Cwrt Mawr to find I had the MASSIVE room on the end, much to the jealousy of my flatmates.
Cwrt Mawr was my first choice of accommodation; it’s right on campus by all the facilities, fairly modern, and set next to Rosser and Trefloyne where most of the other 1st years live. (Take a look at my earlier blog which has tour videos for all of the halls – http://insiders.aber.ac.uk/blog/student-videos/?p=160). There was 7 bedrooms, 2 toilets and 2 showers between us all, although I know some of the flats have a few more people. My flat had a resident tutor at the end of the hall, who is an older student there to support you whilst in halls, help you settle in, and deal with any issues that may come up. It was certainly useful to have this support right in my flat, plus he often suggested we “get an early night” whenever a surprise fire drill was scheduled for the next day.
I’ve digressed a bit off topic here – not a natural written blogger; v-blogs are my thing (so go watch them!). Back onto Freshers….
Socially, Freshers Week is great! The students union have plenty of events, included a big kick-off party and a welcome barbecue. I ventured off into town a few times to sample some of the many pubs and bars. Cambrian became a personal favourite due to their wide range of cocktail selection. Our flat took out a few marker pens and we spent the night drawing on each other; strange, I know, but it was a great way for people to become acquainted.
I was of course a poor innocent fresher, not really taking notice of my alcohol consumption – my 9am registration was certainly fun the next morning, especially with ‘J from da hood’ still scribbled on my cheek!
That first week had so much going on. There was plenty of talks about settling into accommodation, getting various student cards and registering for stuff. I’d say a good part of that week was spent waiting in a line. Make the most this time – chat to the person next to you, they’re probably as bored as you are!
There’s also a massive sports/societies fayre which takes place, where all the clubs and teams advertise and sign up new members. I must have joined about 10 in that first week (Expert Tip – don’t pay for membership until you know which ones you’ll be sticking with!). Most of the clubs put on a social of some sort during the 1st week. These are a great chance for you to make friends with people outside of your flat. Remember that everyone is in the same situation, and so go chat to anyone you can find. 3 common questions you’ll get asked are “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” and “What are you studying?”. You wont remember half of these details, but remembering the name can go a long way – Facebook will tell you the rest about a person
My only complaint about Freshers Week was that, unlike other universities, it wasn’t a whole week! I had my department induction events taking place, which meant actually being up for 10am :O I’m in the Computer Science department (although studying the non-geeky Business IT scheme). You’ll find that most departments run their induction events with all new students, so it can be quite daunting seeing hundreds of people cramming into a room! Best thing to do is just ambush some lonely fresher and join them. This induction covers a LOT of details, about course registration, lecture timetable, practicals and departmental guidelines. However, after it they gave us a Pizza and Beer social to allow us to get to know each other.
Most lectures start properly the week after, so you have the rest of Freshers to get settled in, make friends, and kick of your university experience in style!
If I can pass on any words of wisdom, it would certainly be that, although you’re going to a university by the sea (and yes it’s amazing), do NOT go in the water during October (unless you have a passion for being freezing cold!)