In early to mid-summer I found out that De Montfort University were hosting taster days for each faculty.
Friends that I’d made online through various Facebook groups I had joined had previously been to the taster day linked particularly to their faculty and really enjoyed it, saying it was a good way to meet friends studying the same course as well as making friends studying another course.
Having not yet received details of my faculty’s taster day, I eagerly awaited details. As time went on, more and more of my friends had gone to their taster day but I still hadn’t heard anything.
Fearing, I had missed the email, I kept checking my inbox and junk box on my email, but I found nothing. Maybe I missed it.
Early September I was mid-way into getting my things together, ready to start at De Montfort University when I received an email from the university inviting me to a Faculty of Technology taster day.
Still eager to go I registered and received the confirmation email, confirming my attendance for the day.
I read through all the information and gathered things including campus map and schedule for the day to help me navigate my way around and prepared to go.
The morning of the taster day I had to get up at 6am to get to Leicester and De Montfort University for 9:30am in time for the 10am start.
Getting up at 6am, I got washed and dressed to set out at 7am to be able to get to New Street Station to catch a train at 7:50am which I caught on time.
I hadn’t caught a train for a whole year, my last journey being when I came home from my year at Southampton but I was excited to do it again, it was very strange. I had to get used to this routine again as I would be using the trains at least twice a week when I started De Montfort University (DMU).
The train that I took was due to take 1 hour and terminate at Leicester station, it was only a short journey and it relieved one worry I had of not being able to get off in time at my destination before the train would leave.
Leicester Station seemed very old fashioned from the outside, I found I was able to get around it without much difficulty which solved another worry of mine.
On our way out to the taxi rank, I arranged assisted travel for on the way back home to Birmingham at the travel service desk. As it was peak time being 9:00am there was a long queue at the taxi rank.
The longer I was in the line, the more stressed and anxious I became. Seeing that I was waiting, a taxi driver waved us over. The taxi was big and wheelchair accessible with a ramp, I was able to get in with ease. Travelling through Leicester first thing in the morning was chaotic but we managed to get to DMU with 15 minutes to spare.
Finding our way into DMU was a bit difficult. Since I had last been the building work had been completed resulting in parts of the university being sectioned off.
The parts that had been done already looked great, but there was still a lot of construction still underway which affected the footpaths, which made me struggle to navigate around which made me feel apprehensive about being able to move around from building to building throughout the day.
Then I became more apprehensive, when I considered the academic year ahead. In my opinion the university didn’t need any construction work done and when more and more people go into the university and it gets busier, including many first-year students walking around, unsure of where to go, it would just make things really complicated.
According to student ambassadors, an element of the construction work would be done by the end of freshers’ week, and the other parts should be done after Christmas.
Though this was incredibly annoying, we had to look at the bigger picture of what it will look like when it’s all finished.
Finally, being able to find our way to the right building, I was given a name tag which had both my name and course subject on it. I sat amongst other students from the same faculty, I could see (according to their name tags) that none were studying my course.
Feeling too nervous to talk to anyone, I sat on my own waiting for it to start. The taster day was hosted by the transition team who outlined the itinerary for the day.
As an icebreaker, we would play something called “Human Bingo.” This involved students having a piece of paper with different categories on it such as “Live in Bede Hall” or “Met someone famous.”
The aim of the game was to be the first one to find a fellow student who fits that category and whoever did the first wins a slab of chocolate.
Panicking and still feeling nervous, I told anyone who asked me which of the sections applied to me that I was living in Bede Halls, it was my initial response.
It didn’t for one second cross my mind that I fitted in the “met someone famous” category, having gone to the Hunger Games Premier.
Instead everyone knew me as the girl who was going to live in Bede Hall. This aside, it was a great way to get to know my fellow students.
Next another member part of the transition team came in and presented a piece on lectures and seminars in university and what they were and how best to manage them, getting the most we can out of them. We then sat in groups and had to brainstorm what we had to do before, during and after each lecture and seminar.
Personally, I found it boring and pointless but I had done it before, it may have been useful to fist time university students.
Next was a lecture taster, so students could get a taster of one before they start university.
As the taster day wasn’t for a particular subject, rather the whole faculty, there was no guarantee that the lecture would be based an element of my course.
However, the lecture was based in a building, which I would be having lectures and seminars, come September, so it helpful to see this building, to see if I could navigate easily.
The lecture was based on a module within the Film Studies subject, which was irrelevant to my subject, but I did have a slight personal interest in the subject.
Having done lectures before and though parts were interesting, my mind and thoughts drifted.
After the lecture was finished, the lady who did the session on lecture and seminar tips came in, reviewing the tips and asked us how we found the lecture. To be honest I found it a bit patronising.
Lunch was a buffet; a great chance to mingle with the other students at the taster day. Only then did I manage to look closely at their name tags to see that there was no one there from my course.
Annoying! I hoped to meet some of them before I started university in the coming September. In the meantime, I met some really nice girls on other courses.
After I had eaten lunch, I had some spare time to go and explore the university again.
Having previously contacted the disability team before I came for this taster day, I was able to locate the disabled toilets with hoists – which would be useful to me for future reference when I would start at the university.
All disabled toilets with hoists are accessed by a radar key, which those people with disabilities or the university have access too.
I found this useful and reassuring it would stop any able-bodied students using the toilet, giving disabled students and people priority.
There was a number of these toilets around the university, so this would avoid the disabled toilets all being in use at same time, which would keep students from being late to class.
Once lunch time was over, the group was split into two smaller groups; half going into a time management presentation while the other half went into a finance management presentation.
Going into the time management presentation the elements covered in the presentation were very trivial.
Admittedly some parts of the presentation were useful; we were told how much classroom time compared how much time should be spent on independent study and tutorials.
The transition team then factored in part time jobs and other commitments, breaking it down into segments so it’s easier for students to understand. I did find this useful, despite my better judgment.
The presentation was followed by us doing a task, the transition team asked us to work as a table to brainstorm what commitments people had and which of these were fixed and which could be flexible or changed.
I found this part of the session was pointless, but again the session may have been useful the first-time students.
When this session was finished, the groups swapped and it was the finance presentation next.
As I would have help with my finances from my PA/carer, I didn’t think it was necessary to go to the presentation and went home early.
Heading out of the university, I ordered and waited for a taxi. While I was waiting, I reflected on the day, I found the staff patronising and the day pointless, it was very disappointing considering all the effort we put in to get there.
Earlier in the day, the taxi driver who dropped us off at the university gave us the card with the details of his company, which conveniently had disabled accessible taxis, all available 24 hours which would be useful when I planned to go out at night when I was at university. Getting in one, we travelled through Leicester again in rush hour…. fun!
In the station, I received my tickets and checked in with the disability team, being able to get on the train without a problem.
Arriving back in Birmingham was no problem, the train terminated at the station. I couldn’t help comparing the two stations, Birmingham New Street was massive and very complex, compared to Leicester station.
I arrived home in the pouring rain, absolutely exhausted after such a long day…