Luke on support and meeting people at the UoB

Luke is an English student at the University of Birmingham.  He writes about his experiences of enjoying being a student during the covid-19 pandemic, the support that has been available, and how he has been meeting people.

Photograph of Luke

Hi! I’m Luke, an English student at Birmingham. My university experience has been great, in spite of Covid-19 impacting my 2nd Year. I knew early on that university was where I wanted to go, but being the first person in my family to go to university, I didn’t necessarily know what to expect, especially with Covid-19 rather abruptly ending my First Year and impacting the entirety of my Second Year. However, in spite of it all, I have really enjoyed my time at university so far. I have grown so much more confident and am looking forward to a (hopefully) more settled Final Year at Birmingham!

Before I started university, I wish I would have known about the support that was available.

I thought that it was all down to you and the only time you would get feedback would be in essays – which is true. But there are so many other networks which can help you, ranging from Academic Writing support (in the College of Arts and Law, where I’m based, we call this AWAS), your personal academic tutor, and any other academic through their Office Hours. I never used Office Hours enough in First Year and I wish I had, because the academics want to help you succeed. My first time going to an Office Hour was a turning point for me, because I finally understood fully what was meant by the requirements for ‘close readings’ and this has helped me so much in Second Year and will again in Final Year.

If you are coming to Birmingham, I really recommend that you talk to people you meet, whether it be in a Welcome talk, a subject event (English ran a Quiz night during Welcome Week when I started) or any other situation.

As a commuter student, not living in university accommodation meant that I had to find other ways of meeting people, and such events allowed me to do this from the offset and definitely made the transition from 6th Form to university easier. Most people won’t know many other people and so this is a perfect time to strike up conversations with people, even if like myself you feel a bit awkward about doing so! And make sure to go to the Societies Fair, though if crowds aren’t really your cup of tea, aim to get there early. Again, even if you sign up to a Society and don’t enjoy it after going to an event, you’ve still met people – but you may end up loving a society and wanting to become part of the society’s committee in future years.

As a student, I have loved the academic side of university. After all, you are doing a subject you truly enjoy for three or more years! I have been able to develop existing interests whilst simultaneously discovering new ones, including in areas I had never considered before. I’ve also really enjoyed the ability to meet new people who I share similar interests with. At school and 6th Form I was the only one who really enjoyed English in my friendship groups and sometimes I felt a bit ‘odd’. However, at university, I haven’t felt this at all and have been able to create a network of friends who share my passion for English, but also wider afield with people from Medicine, Philosophy and Psychology to name a few.