By Will, Civil Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham
Hi, I’m Will, and I’m a third year MEng Civil Engineer.
When you arrive at university in freshers’ week, two of the key events you’ll have the chance to attend are the Societies Fair and the Sports Fair. Each of these events is a gateway to getting involved in things at university that aren’t work. University life is about so much more than just going to lectures and doing work!
In my first year I was a member of the cycle club and I would ride with them at weekends and go out with them on Wednesday nights to Sports Night – the club night at the Guild (our students’ union) for sports clubs. I am not a member anymore because I decided against re-joining when Covid restrictions meant little club activity could happen – but it was a good opportunity to socialise and relax outside of other social circles (like housemates and course mates).
Since first year I have been a member of the music society and their brass band. Rehearsing once a week and always heading to the pub afterwards, it’s been a consistently fantastic opportunity to take a break from work, spend time with like-minded people making music and make a lot of new friends beyond house and coursemates. Even in third year, as restrictions were lifted I’ve met lots of new people through it who have joined up since we were last able to rehearse without limitation in first year. It also lead me to join the Jazz Funk and Soul society, which have events every two weeks for musicians to come together and do some improvising in a bar with lots of fellow musicians in the crowd supporting us and having fun.
Because lectures don’t take up a huge proportion of the week, with at most 12-15 hours’ worth, there is plenty of time to work or relax around it, and I’d say that my top tip would be to be organised and work in the daytime as much as possible, find somewhere that you’re comfortable studying and keep it varied if you like a change of scenery. I tend to stay on campus after I’ve had lectures to work because I’m usually in the mood to after a lecture and have walked to campus so I may as well make the most! I like using lots of different study spaces so it doesn’t feel repetitive – I particularly like finding a window seat in the Teaching and Learning building which has lovely views over campus. Studying in the daytime where possible means that you can keep the evenings free to socialise, do society activities and chill out.
When it comes to revision, my tactics are similar. Try and be organised and methodical, and give yourself enough time to relax to you don’t overstress yourself. I’d say that university workload is lower than A Levels, but there is a lot more socialising to be had and it’s easy to get distracted in uni houses because you’re living with anywhere up to 6 or 7 of your mates which tend to like to distract you!
Overall I think societies and sports teams give you a great structured time set aside to not work. So long as you’re careful with your time management – working at the right times so you can have fun and do other things at the times other people will want to – that’s the philosophy I follow.