Campus has gone quiet again with the arrival of the Easter holidays, althought definitely not as quiet as it was at Christmas, I’m taking an educated guess that there may be a fair few final year students hanging around getting a head start in the library before their final dissertation hand ins and exams. I know this because my brother is currently doing the same down in Bath, for him the dissertation deadline looms this Thursday before he breaks for Easter. This meant two things to me:
- Time to be a good big sister and read his first dissertation draft – which I dutifully did last night and returned with what I hope are useful comments and a copy of my own dissertation to help with his discussion.
- Realisation that I have no idea about a lot of things at Leicester that you’d think I would know.
I realised over the weekend that the undergraduates at Leicester had already been gone for a week but my brother down in Bath still doesn’t break up for another week. I looked at the Univeristy term times and discovered that Leicester students get 5 weeks off! 5 WEEKS! At Bath it’s 2 weeks, plus a revision week then exams begin. I started to wonder just how many things you would know about your undergraduate univeristy that you might never learn about your Postgraduate institution, so here are my findings:
- Leicester has terms and semesters, at Bath I adjusted to the semester style of academic years and with 2 exam periods I think that works. As far as I’ve learnt Leceister also has 2 exam periods falling into the semesters but also has terms, I think this purely denotes the times spent at University between the large holidays of Christmas, Easter and Summer although I could be wrong! Not knowing the term dates can have an effect on those left on campus (like me) as opening times are often reduced (especially when they’re normally staffed by students who’ve gone home!).
- How exactly does the library work? This isn’t one that will apply to all PhD students and it’s definitely not the libraries fault – I was fully inducted back in October when I started at Leicester but it’s a case of use it or lose it, and I’ve definitely lost it. I work in my lab and I have a desk with a computer in the communal office so I’ve only been into the library on a hand full of occassions, and I’ve definitely never checked out a book. Book is almost considered a dirty word when you’re producing up-to-date research in scientific fields! So while I may have been shown how to use all the facilities the library has to offer I’ve rarely used most of them. The one outstanding exception is of course the online access to journal articles, and I don’t think any student (PhD students in particular) will ever get through a degree without using this facility. From the courses I’ve had, I can tell you the library staff are helpful and very approachable, so I don’t doubt that if I do ever need to use the actual physical library building they will be there to guide me through the process.
- I have no idea what any of the student accommodation is called. It’s been a while since I’ve lived in student accommodation, 6 years if you really want to know (no comments about my grandma status please), and university accommodation as an undergraduate was a point of loyalty. As a fresher I was, and still am “Westwood” and “Cotswold T3” for life, as a fresher T3 defined us as a group, and many of us are still friends now. If you asked me then if I would ever attend another university my answer would’ve been a straight no, obviously times change but I think deep down I’ll always be T3 for life. I hope at Leicester the undergraduates are as fiercely loyal to their accommodation as we were. My ignorance on this topic probably comes more from already having a place to live, when my welcome pack arrived I skipped the accommodation section, but a little online googling tells me that exclusively post-grad accommodation can be found at Nixon Court, Opal Court and Salisbury Houses and you apply online for these when the time is right.
- All the places to eat. Generally I bring my packed lunch to work, but occassionally I’m lazy, have run out of food or simply fancy a change. Normally we head to the IV cafe in the Medical Science Building (MSB) to grab a sandwich or soup but I have to say I’m not always inspired by the choices. Recently we’ve begun branching out and have eaten at the Charles Wilson building city side and also the 1923 (the most bar style place to eat on campus) but I think there are definitely still a few places to discover. Unfortunately a lot of the sandwiches and quick to grab food on campus seems to be the same in the different outlets (providing the same lack of inspiration as in the IV), but I do want to try eating at delic!ous which is the sandwich bar in the Charles Wilson building. There are a lot of options on campus but some days it can be difficult to persuade the team to leave the safe and warm surroundings of the interconnected Adrian and MSB buildings to try something new. If I manage to drag them out to delic!ous I’ll let you know.
- How modules work. I have no idea about any of the units on offer to the students in my department except the ones I’ve demonstrated on. I know nothing about hand in procedures, on-line submission or deadlines. As a post-grad you’re generally free of these worries that dominate undergraduate students lives. As I demonstrate more I imagine I will learn more about the modules on offer to the students but until then I’ll remain in the dark.
- Where is that room? I am so clueless about buildings and rooms outside of those immediately surrounding me. Anytime I need to go anywhere I have to check the online campus map to work out where exactly I’m meant to be going. I think an undergrad would laugh at me if I told them I’d been working on campus for over 6 months but couldn’t direct anyone anywhere unless it’s the Adrian building or possibly the MSB.
The things I do know:
- The cost of a tall, skinny, signature, hazelnut hot chocolate at Starbucks in the SU (£3.05) and the restraint I need to show to not buy one everyday! I know this is an overly complicated order but forgive me, I used to have a housemate who worked at Starbucks and the place is addictive.
- Where the library is – I can locate the physical building.
- Where to purchase a can of diet coke (bottles just aren’t the same), this would be Nourish the campus shop inside the SU where you can get all sorts, from university swag (hoodies etc.) to lunch.
- Where I can get cash – there is a cash point outside the SU and also one inside Nourish (for those who want to skip the queue and the rain), although I still haven’t mastered the mystical opening times of the campus Santander branch, everytime I try and go there it seems to be closed although I’m going out on a limb and saying it’s probably actually a very simple system that I haven’t quite grasped.
Overall there’s a lot I don’t know about the University of Leicester that an undergraduate would, but right now that’s simply because I don’t need to know, I imagine there’s plenty I know that they don’t, like the first names of some of their lecturers.