Hannah, a third year Sport and Exercise Sciences undergraduate describes her experiences of studying at the University of Birmingham and being involved in voluntary work and the university hockey team.
I'm Hannah Ewens, I'm studying BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham.
I came to study Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham because I did P.E. at A level; huge passion for sport, I'd done sport throughout my school days so it seemed the obvious choice when I came to the end of secondary school. The sport and exercise sciences course at Birmingham stands out for me because of the incredible facilities, the labs and the equipment that they have are very good and I know it's one of the top universities to study this course.
In my first year I got involved in the Passport Scheme and that gives people the opportunity to go and do placements throughout Birmingham and in return for the volunteer hours they do they get offered funding towards some qualifications. So I was keen to do that and so I started working for Edgbaston Hockey Club in their junior section coaching every Sunday morning. I then got another placement in a primary school teaching multi-skills so more general support to younger children. It was perfect for me because I want to teach primary school it combined my two passions; teaching and sport.
After a year of doing that on the Passport Scheme I then became a coordinator on the scheme. So that now means that I have a group of students who I mentor and help them through their placements, help them find placements, and basically help them get the experience that I had with volunteering here. I really enjoy living in Birmingham, I come from a city so I like big cities and I think the opportunities available here are quite a lot because of the fact that it's such a big city. I also think that it's a great community. You can feel that within the campus, there's a very broad range of people that come to study here so you get to know all sorts of people and I think that's important when you are going into further education really.
I play for the University of Birmingham hockey team the Fours and I've done that for the last, I'm in the second year of playing for that team. The thing I love about the hockey team is just the social side of it as well as the playing. We train hard and play a lot but then we also, it's nice to be part of a team and it's also a very good standard hockey club and so I enjoy being part of something quite big like that. My experience of the sport here has been brilliant, partly due to the great people involved in it and the standard at which the sport is here at Birmingham. The facilities as well are brilliant specifically for hockey, which is my sport; the two water-based Astroturfs are fantastic. We train on them twice a week, play twice a week - a really incredible experience that's made my time here at uni really.
My top tips for combining studying and training would probably be just stay very organised. You do get into a routine, so it's not too bad and also I think both of those things for me personally complement each other. Training is not the same as studying - I think they go well together. Organise your time well and it's not a problem to combine both of those things.
My dissertation this year is looking at rheumatoid arthritis patients and the effect that an exercise intervention could have on their lifestyles. So it's looking at blood sample and assessing oxidative stress and inflammation levels. So it's very interesting because it's quite a current important thing that's going on today.
My aspirations for the future are to be a primary school teaching so I'm currently applying to do a primary PGCE here for next year. I've wanted to do that for the last couple of years so very much looking forward to that.
My top tip for students coming to study here would be to grab every opportunity because they're kind of handed to you on a plate at university and you’re never going to get those kinds of experiences again. So, in your first year, get involved with as much as you can and don't let anything hold you back.