Duration: 6.15 mins
Speaker Names (if given): S1 Annabelle - undergraduate
S1 My name's Annabelle and I'm in my third year doing undergraduate at the University of Birmingham doing Psychology.
I chose Birmingham because I'm from Devon and it's quite small and rural and I wanted to come somewhere that's really big and has lots of different opportunities that are on offer for me. The psychology course at Birmingham stood out to me because of the variety of things that it offers in the course, it doesn't just focus on one area, you touch on a bit of biology, you touch on a bit of cognitive, and you touch on a bit of social. It seems very broad and we've been able to look at child development, we've looked at mental health. We looked in detail at vision and eyesight and we've looked at different conditions where - sort of - very odd things will happen like someone won't be able to see half of their world but there's nothing wrong with their eyesight and we get to learn why that's happened and how you can go on to help these people. So the course has been great because it's really covered a wide variety, and there's a lot of voluntary opportunities that are available through the psychology department.
One of the projects I did most recently was working with Age Concern, which I picked up through the university. That involved me going out to residential care homes where I ran my own art and drama and music workshops with the elderly there and that was a really good experience for me because I'd never run any workshops before so I really had to take the lead role and get involved and it was really nice to meet people with lots of the conditions that we had actually touched on a little bit such as dementia and Alzheimer's and things so it was really nice to actually see the people behind the conditions. I really enjoyed that. I was also part of a mentoring scheme where we went into schools. Again this was through Psychology and we were trying to get local schools in Selly Oak to be a bit more aware of mental health and how it's very normal. So that was working with secondary school kids. I've also been part of the Monday night club, which is a project which has been running for the last 25 years or something through the university and a lot of psychologists really enjoy actually. You meet lots and lots of different, vulnerable adults from the community who have a variety of learning disabilities as well as physical disabilities and we basically just have fun and provide a really safe place for them to do some artwork or play some games and it's very enjoyable.
In my first year I tried to join as many things as I could, I was in the choir and that was really good fun, I met lots of different people from lots of different courses and that was really enjoyable and I was part of a few concerts doing that. I also joined a few exercise classes. One of them I actually have continued, that was the hula hooping that I now do. I really enjoy doing hula hooping, I've met some really interesting people and had some quite interesting experiences. I was able to hula hoop as part of the Birmingham Opera at one performance, which really great. I've also been involved in some voluntary work as well. I was part of the dance show and I did some belly dancing with that, that was really good fun again I met lots of different people doing that. Yeah, I've done quite a lot of clubs and societies but there are so many more that you can choose to do.
I found living in Birmingham quite different to living in Devon where I'm from. It's really nice being able to just get on the train, go into town and there's always something on. There's always some music somewhere or some art gallery that's always open so it's just very lively and animated and there's always lots of things on offer to do. My highlight of being at Birmingham so far has definitely been the location, the ease of getting in and out of town, all the things that the guild has on offer. I'm actually going on a zoo trip with my course on Friday. I'm really looking forward to that, I'm pretty sure that's going to be quite a highlight!
I've really enjoyed meeting some of the lecturers and actually getting a bit of a personal relationship with them particularly in third year as well. What I'm working on at the moment in my course is I'm in dissertation time so I'm actually writing a dissertation at the moment with one the very highly esteemed members of the team here at Birmingham. She's called Dr Jackie Blisset, she's really lovely. I get to spend lots of time with her every week and we're working on my dissertation together. We're looking at the relationship between breast feeding and obesity and maternal control, and whether that affects these. I've really enjoyed doing it, I've had to write my own questionnaire, go out and find my own sample. I've collected all this data from 1670 different mothers all over the country. It's actually really interesting starting to analyse and finding out - using all the stats that we learned in first year, and actually using them now to find out some really interesting, concrete things about real people in the real world. My aspirations for the future are all a bit up in the air at the moment. I came to university pretty sure I wanted to work with some sort of group of vulnerable people. Whether that’s people with learning disabilities or mental health problems. I'm still not quite sure what direction I'm going to go with it but I've had a lot of support from my personal tutor and she's encouraged me to take a bit of time out this next year. So I'm actually going to do some various work experience. Working in hospitals a little bit, as well as I'm going to start teaching my own hula hoop classes and then next year I plan to start either a new course or sign up for something a bit more concrete.
My top tip for starting university, particularly the University of Birmingham is to start early on motivating yourself to do work because that is the biggest jump from coming from school or college to university is that it's now up to you. You have to motivate yourself to do your work, to do your reading and to really enjoy it so try and make yourself enjoy what you are doing and read the bits of the books that you find interesting. That would be my top tip.
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