9 months left, 300 Societies, 80 Sports Clubs: What Do I Choose?

The University of Southampton has recently launched a video advertising the range of activities their students can get involved in during their degrees. It features several current students, including a couple of my course mates, describing some of the things they have taken part in (skydiving! Woooooo!) and offering advice to new students.

With over 300 societies—including over 80 sports clubs—provided through the Students’ Union, Southampton is a unique opportunity to try out a range of experiences, but the time goes by fast.

I have sought to take as much advantage of this opportunity as I could and I have certainly broadened my horizons, but last month I found myself facing the end of my time at Southampton and feeling frustrated at the things I haven’t done. I have had a far more challenging time at Southampton than other students seem to and I wonder what I might have been able to achieve had things gone more smoothly.

Nevertheless, I still have most of my final year ahead of me and I want to take as much advantage of it as I can while I’m here. I already have the skydiving club (in a social capacity for now) and the surfing club; this year I’ve become secretary of the Gliding club too and we’re starting to get that off the ground again (if you’ll excuse the pun) after a year or so of dormancy. I have a packed schedule in terms of lectures for the foreseeable future along with the Lunar Hopper GDP but I still feel like there’s something else I want to do. Both time and money are going to be at a premium this year though, and there’s more to choose from than I could ever have time for.

I find myself reflecting on what advice I would give my first-year self if I had the chance. Back then I was still recovering from a family bereavement and it was arguably too soon to be taking on something as big as this. The first thing I could have done is seek out help with the transition to living independently, including finding people to live with who I could get on with comfortably at the time rather than just dropping me in with a bunch of random strangers. Finding some time to learn how to cook would also have been good. Finally, getting into counselling sooner would have done me a world of good and helped me to move on sooner, which might have made the following years easier and more successful. Generally, my advice would be to ensure the help I needed was fully put in place as soon as possible, as things would have been so much easier had that happened.

My finances are very tight right now, so whatever I choose is going to have to be cheap. But what do I go for? Have I got enough going already? Should I double down or branch out?

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Looking Back on Blogging 101 and Writing 101

Blogging 101 and Writing 101 have now come to a close. Although I haven’t been able to complete all the tasks/prompts I feel like I have learned a few useful things about blogging and the WordPress platform, and I have got my blog going nicely.

I have already attempted Blogging 101 before but there has usually been something crop up that has interrupted me and stopped me from completing it. This time around I feel like I’ve done much better and I’ve completed much more of the course. My main weakness has been in commenting: I haven’t really got into commenting on other people’s blogs at all and that’s something I’m going to have to think about as I continue with my blog. Nevertheless, I feel a sense of completion.

I have not tried Writing 101 before and I struggled to maintain the daily posting routine that it is designed to encourage; more importantly I don’t think I want to be blogging every day as I want to take the time to write something more meaningful (and I don’t always have the time for blogging in amongst all the other stuff I get up to). I also want to write a different kind of material to what Writing 101 seemed to be calling for. I’ve learned a few things here too, but I’m not sure if I’ll return to it as I did with Blogging 101 given how I feel about it. Perhaps I’ll reconsider it once my blog is better established….

Now that I’ve started back at university again I don’t think I’ll have the time for posting frequently but I hope to be able to post once or twice a week. I’ve started to enjoy working on my blog and I want to start writing some more substantial content for it.

Back to University

Last week my lectures began for the final (Masters) year of my degree. This year is going to be packed: I have four 15-credit modules (supposedly equal to 150 hours of study each) this semester, along with a Group Design Project (GDP) worth 45 credits that runs through to the end of the academic year. Next semester I have a further three 15-credit modules, so I’m going to be busy. The full list is:

  • Semester 1:
    • Advanced Computational Methods 1
    • Advanced Partial Differential Equations
    • Spacecraft Engineering Design
    • Spacecraft Structural Design
  • Semester 2:
    • Spacecraft Propulsion
    • Spacecraft Orbit Mechanics and Control
    • Hypersonic and High Temperature Gas Dynamics
  • Whole year: Lunar Hopper GDP

That’s some heavy stuff. It’s a good job I like these kinds of things….

This year is sometimes known as a ‘Masters’ year because it is the final year of an integrated masters programme; whereas someone might do a three-year BEng programme then a separate MSc, my degree programme takes me straight through to an MEng. The equivalent standing of an MEng to an MSc is supposedly debatable, but in theory the MEng programme combines the two into one four-year course.

Fortunately the timetable itself isn’t particularly heavy. This semester I have 12 lectures a week (with a handful of additional one-off lectures through the semester) along with a few hours of tutorials, a one-hour computing lab each week and weekly GDP meetings which are still settling down. This reduces to nine weekly hours of lectures and three 3-hour labs in the second semester. All told, this is going to be a busy year.