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Part 5 – Student life
Having briefly mentioned what student life is like studying in The UoM in my last post, I thought I would elaborate more on that and give you a better idea of what life is like here. High expectations lead to hard disappointments. However, you can’t be disappointed if you know exactly what to expect 😎😎. Let me tell you all about life as a student in this post and save you from disappointments.
Let’s start with the weather. You are going to arrive in September; the weather during this time will be nice compared to what is to come later on in the year 😈😈. Most days during your Welcome Week and Orientation will be around 20 degree Celsius (could be as low as 12 or 10 but I would say it is quite rare). It rains quite often here so an umbrella should be picked up as soon as you can. Make sure you get those small extendable ones so you can put it in your bag and have it with you WHEREEVER you go! Speaking from experience, it could look sunny in the morning before you leave the house and starts pouring down by the time you have walked half of the way to university, then it stops by the time you reach your building (yes, it happens all the time).
During winter we have shorter days and longer nights (8 hours day and 16hours night) with the sun rising at 8am and setting around 3 or 4pm. To compensate for the lack of sunlight, this cycle flips during summer (16hours of day and 8 hours of night). This was unusual for me when I first arrived in the UK as where I came from we had 12 hour day and night cycles throughout the year so I think this might surprise you as well😐. Snowing is rare even during the coldest days and when it does; it gets flushed by the rain that follows shortly after. Basically, you are not likely to be building your snowman or even having snowball fights, disappointing right 🙁🙁?
What is it like to be a student a The UoM? Well, this will vary with the course you are doing. For me (I study Mathematics so I think my course structure will be similar to other STEM courses), I have 12 lectures and 6 tutorials every week (each session is one hour long). Lectures are where your professor/course coordinator will teach you the course; they will deliver it in front of the whole class in a big lecture room or a classroom depending on how many people are in the course. Although some lecturers will provide a set of typed up notes, these are notes from the lecturer and contains everything you need to know for the course, some lecturers will leave gaps in the notes as a way to encourage you to attend the all the lectures. Most lectures now are recorded so you can watch them online, it is still important for you to attend as many as you can because this is the best way you can learn the material (you are paying for it so don’t waste your money!). Tutorials are in smaller groups of around 20 people where you get the chance to ask your lecturer questions about materials of the course they teach. For my course, we have an example sheet every week where we have to work on prior to the tutorial so we can ask questions during this time. Self-studying will also be a big part of student life, and this is where you will spend most of the time doing.
Now onto the topic of holidays! We have two big holidays in one academic year, the winter break, and Easter break. Winter break is 4 weeks long and starts on the third week of December up to the second week of January. Then we will have 2 weeks from the third week of January till the end of January for the end of semester 1 exams. This means you will have one month of free time before the January exams. Use this time wisely to prepare for your exams! The second semester starts between the last week of January and the first week of February. Easter holiday is 3 weeks long and starts between late March and early April. Compared to the winter break, you will still have a month worth of lectures when you return from the break. This is the perfect time to catch up on coursework and start preparing for your end of year exams (it’s stressful, and it only gets more stressful in the second and third year🙁). All lectures finish around 2 weeks of May and then you will have exams for the following 3 weeks. This means there are no breaks between the end of the semester and your exams like in the first semester; this will make exams a bit more stressful as you might need some extra time to digest the material of your course. Apart from these two long-term holidays, there is a reading week in week 6 (the 6th week of the first semester) where we will not have lectures. However, some lecturers will have things planned for you so it’s not entirely a break (midterm tests, lab classes, etc.).
This is all I will cover on today’s post, there is still your nightlife, society, travelling, etc. we can talk about, but these are unique experiences to you so I won’t touch on that and leave them for you to explore. I hope this post has given you an insight into what university is going to be like. As usual, thank you for reading and if you have any questions please comment and I will answer them as soon as I can!