Claire Saunders, BA Childhood, Education and Society
Published August 2014
Name: Claire Saunders
Blog: Claire's blog
Degree: BA (Hons) Childhood, Education and Society
Home town: Stowmarket in Suffolk
A-levels studied: Sociology, double award health and social care and I have an AS in maths.
Where were you before you came to Warwick?
Bury St Edmunds County Upper School. It’s a state academy with a sixth form attached.
How long have you been at Warwick?
I’m just finishing my second year. Time’s gone so quick!
How did you apply?
I applied to Warwick through the UCAS system and waited for an offer. I chose to make Warwick my first choice as I loved the campus and really liked the look of the degree course. I can’t exactly remember when I made Warwick my first choice; I know I received my university offers around Christmas so I imagine around January-March time. UCAS is pretty good at keeping you up to date with what you have to do and when.
What’s it like to study here?
I’ve really enjoyed studying at Warwick. My lecturers and tutors are really friendly and supportive so I always feel that I can talk to them if I have any problems with my studies or assignments. I often send my lecturers emails but they don’t mind and always send really lovely replies.
The library and study spaces are also really good. There’s a new student hub on Westwood Campus where my lectures are. It has computers, sofas and a TV screen which is quite a nice place to meet friends and to study. There’s also plenty of other places, like the learning grids (which are like 24-hour mini libraries), which all have lots of space and resources. Even during exam season I didn’t struggle to find somewhere to study if I wanted to work on campus.
My lecturers and tutors are really friendly and supportive so I always feel that I can talk to them if I have any work problems.
Sometimes books may not be available in the library but we have an academic librarian assigned to our course who is always looking for information about whether there are books we’d like more of or resources we’d like access to. A few people talk about not being able to find resources in the library but this isn’t a real problem I’ve experienced for Childhood, Education and Society (CES).
What was it like going from studying at A-level to studying at Warwick?
The biggest difference I found was the focus on independent learning. At degree level you’re expected to do a lot more studying on your own, with less guidance than was given at A-level. This can be a bit of a shock, and can leave you feeling a bit daunted in the first few weeks (it did for me!) but you get used to it. You can always ask for help if you’re unsure of anything too, so you’re not completely on your own.
Universities also have different regulations about academic writing; making sure you reference all your work properly, for example. My department uses Harvard referencing, which I’d never heard of before! It can be quite complicated but we had sessions during freshers’ week to explain it to us and there’s guidance on the course and library webpages. It’s tricky at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’re away!
I had a friend who had done my course (although it had a different name back then) who told me about Warwick and encouraged me to have a look around. Without her, I don’t think I would have thought about Warwick!
The open day was really useful in helping me to make a decision about Warwick, it was great to be able to see the campus, and I loved the community ‘bubble’ feel. Everyone was really lovely and open to us asking questions, which gave a good impression.
The prospectus and website were also useful in finding out information, which helped me make a decision as I felt I knew a lot about the University before I made a decision.
What have you found most challenging?
Moving away from home. After the first few weeks at uni, it really sunk in that I’d left home, although this is something I now feel I’ve got used to! Its little things you don’t think about that you now have to do for yourself; like food shopping and bills.
I didn’t know anyone coming to Warwick so I did feel a bit on my own. All of my housemates were really lovely and we’re now really good friends, but it is challenging at first to take it all in and become used to university life. It’s something I now feel I’m more comfortable with, so things like homesickness have definitely got smaller as time has gone on. Even now though, there’s still times where trips home or a visit from family and old friends doesn’t go amiss!
What were your favourite memories of the past year?
Where to start! I have had a great, exciting and really busy year! But it’s all been really good fun!
Some of my favourite memories have simply been nights in that I’ve had my housemates. Some people say eight is a lot of people, but I’ve really enjoyed it!
Some of my favourite memories have simply been nights in that I’ve had my housemates. This year, I’ve lived with seven other people in a house in nearby Leamington Spa. Although people say eight is a lot of people, I’ve really enjoyed it. There’s always someone in the house to talk to and keep you company! We’re all really good friends so we’ve had some lovely nights in, just chatting, watching films or playing games.
Also, I went on a bit of a ‘tour’ with Warwick Revelation-Rock Gospel Choir. We stayed in a church in Warrington for a week and rehearsed and socialised to put on a show at the end of the week. Revelation-Rock Gospel Choirs are a national network, so people from all over the country came along! It was really good fun, and I had an awesome time. It was great to meet new people and make some lovely new friends.
I also started up a student society this year with some friends for my course, Childhood, Education and Society. It’s something I’m actually quite proud of and we had some lovely memories of meals out, organising training days and having a stall at Freshers’ fair. It’s rewarding to help run a society and to see members enjoying being involved in what you’re doing.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this year?
From my degree course, how to write up a research project, as a mini trial, before our dissertations next year. Although research is a mighty subject, and can be difficult to understand, it was interesting to learn what goes into making up a research report and producing a journal article like the ones we read for our course.
From a non-academic point of view, through the Revelation choir, I’ve learnt a lot more about music. I have done singing at home but we’ve done all sorts this year as part of the society. I’ve learnt how to play a few songs on the piano, conduct a choir and how to sign along to a song! To me, this shows how there’s so much more to university than studying (although your degree is very important!) and you can learn lots of other skills. I wish this is something I’d also done in my first year, so I’d encourage anyone to have a think about societies and sport teams and grab the opportunity to learn something new if they can.
Any low points?
Within any year, there are going to be ups and downs. Homesickness is something that I can get a bit upset about during the year, especially when things get a bit busy, and I’d love a proper, home cooked meal! But, to overcome this I might Skype or talk to my sister, parents, family and friends from home and even visit them or invite them to visit me. Also, my housemates and friends are all really lovely, and everyone supports each other if you feel a bit homesick. It happens to everyone.
I also had a few low points in starting up the CES society. It’s not an easy task, especially as the CES course is quite diverse. We have mature students and students studying part-time, so finding events to suit everyone was a bit of a challenge; we did have a few that weren’t as successful as we’d have liked! We persevered though and the society now has a new exec with lots of wonderful ideas! We had a really supportive department and the exec worked really hard, so we were able to keep motivated to make it work.
Overall, I’d say I’ve had a pretty positive year at university. It’s definitely nice to be settled in and I have found friends; it feels more like home and more familiar now than in my first year.
Will you be studying overseas?
I will! As part of the Erasmus programme,I will be studying in Trondheim, Norway, at Queen Maud University College [http://dmmh.no/], a specialist teacher training university.
Our placement is for three months. It’s quite nice as it’s not a year like other courses. We’ll be spending time in nursery and school settings, as well as studying at the University. In Norway, they have a different ethos to education, so it’ll be really interesting to experience their culture and early-years education!
What do you plan to do once you’ve completed your degree?
I’m exploring options to complete teacher training and become a primary school teacher. I’m also interested in some other education-type jobs, such as supporting families in helping to provide educational activities for children, so I’m not sure if a traditional primary school teacher is what I’ll do forever, but it seems like a good start at the moment.
The CES course is so broad so the job possibilities are endless! Although this can make it difficult to know what to do. It’s good that you have so many options available to you and the Warwick Careers Service is really helpful in helping you work towards what you want to do after your degree.
What do you do when you’re not studying?
I am particularly involved in the Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir. I am also the choir’s new treasurer and am part of the exec committee who run the choir. It’s really good fun to be on exec, even with the added responsibility, as you feel really involved with the society and gain some experience on how groups and things are run.
Last year, I did some activities with Warwick Volunteers, something which I’m quite sad I didn’t get to do much of this year. I was part of ‘Community Arts and Drama’ and helped put on drama workshops for youth groups in the local area. It was great to be involved in activities off campus, as well as on campus and to meet new people too.
I also enjoy socialising with friends and my housemates. Sometimes we’ll go for dinner, go on a night out, have a cosy night in or even just pop round for a cup of tea. There’s so many options around for things to do, especially living in Leamington, that there’s always something to fill your time with.
Who have you met whilst you’re here?
I have met some awesome friends here and some I am really close with, despite only knowing them for a year or two! For me, friends are a huge part of university as you get to meet so many people and you’ll definitely find people just like you. This was something I was anxious with at first but I promise you will make friends and you won’t be on your own!
Meeting some of the lecturers and academics in the department has been really interesting too. Many are actively involved in research and some are particularly known in their area. It can be intriguing to talk to them and hear about their subject areas and expertise.
What’s your favourite spot on campus?
Probably some of the fields around the halls; Tocil and behind Arthur Vick which was where I lived in my first year. Warwick campus is really pretty and has lots of woodland walks and running routes (although, you don’t have to run…I definitely didn’t!). It’s something I really would go and have a look at if you can. The fields are fab for sunbathing, having a barbeque or a picnic, playing football or just relaxing with friends. Sometimes you don’t realise that these spots are there because of all the buildings, but it’s definitely something which I think is fab and quite unique about Warwick.