So, this is it. My year as the school rep for Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences (Cyncoed) has started. The initial training was a fine balance between workshops, conferences, information sessions and team building exercises. The week was hectic with training sessions set between both campuses, yet somehow still felt laidback, creating opportunities for everyone to get know one another. The free breakfast on Monday and Friday was also great!
On Monday morning we all sat down to eat the first of our free breakfasts and the first of many free coffees for that week, we were all very shy asking the usual questions “Where do you live, what do you study, where are you from”. A silence then fell, and we all felt very awkward, we were all round this table in the bottom of cento staring at people we’d only just met who we’d be working closely together with throughout the year it was all very daunting. As the day progressed, we understood our roes, responsibilities and the expectations placed upon us clearer. After lunch we prepared ourselves to present our 3 objectives/aims/goals that we hope to achieve as the year progressed. It was great to see that, especially school reps, had similarities in their objectives and that it was a school wide issue trying to be fixed rather just one set school. For example, many reps wanted to hold hot seat sessions in order great more opportunities for student reps and students to provide feedback outside of scheduled feedback sessions. After a long day of training and meeting new people, I won’t lie I was knackered and pretty much crashed as soon as I got home.
Many have said Amy and I look alike in this photo, personally I cannot see it! | Mad Scientists and Black Ladies
Tuesday was yet another jam-packed day with essential but tiring information being provided to us. The first session of the was GDPR in which Bethan covered how we should handle our peers data, in all fairness to her she did very well in remembering all that information, it seemed a lot like common sense stuff you should/shouldn’t do but I definitely took a lot from the session. Towards the end of the day we were able to sit down with our respective ‘boss’, Keira being the school reps’ boss we talked about rep recruitment, committees and goal setting. It was a great way to organise the year ahead, especially when it came to the number of individual and groups meetings we would have. As the day of training came to an end, we all said our goodbyes and see you soons, and headed to home to get ready for our team building evening at Cosy Club to get to know each other in a more informal setting. Food was being eating, Amy and Elle were woahing and creating some giraffe animals with their hands, needless to say the awkwardness from Day 1 had disappeared.
Wednesday morning began with Brad Woolridge presenting his student wellbeing project and how he is trying to gather data from across the schools to ensure the way services in place accurately reflect the needs to students within each school. He was then followed by Sally Strong’s workshop on assertiveness and professional conduct. The session was hugely enlightening with scores being from one end of the spectrum to the other, with assertiveness being my highest score and passive-aggressive being my lowest. I agreed with my scores, and think my family and friends would also, but it was interesting to have. We all were able to focus and putout excitement for the escape rooms as side for a few hours, I in particular was very excited having never experienced doing an escape room before. I usually get very stressed at the smallest of things and lose my rag when I can’t do something, so my team-mates were in for a right treat. We had 2 rounds consisting of 4 games in total, one with School Reps verses part time officers and another where we were all mixed up. For someone who is extremely competitive I was very happy to have won both rounds and wasn’t rubbing it in all.
Thursday, we had the opportunity to attend the QED conference where the SU put on a workshop for staff and students to plan together and work on the school reps and officers’ ideas for the year. This was such an effective workshop, it allowed lecturers and staff to hear our ideas and input on them and see if they can help in any way. My group deiced to focus on two areas, student feedback after December and then an event to enable fresher to provide specific feedback and receive pizza in return. During the conference it was also interesting to attend staff talks, in particular Mark Samuels Pecha Kucha about academic sparring.
Friday came and we’d finally made it to the end of the week, a long but enlightening week. We were able to talk about the upcoming events such as fresher’s fayre, MetFest and understand what our roles were on those particular days. As well as, future events coming in the year such as winter ball and student achievement awards. Friday we also got to have another evening all together, this we were at Bingo Lingo singing our absolute heard out to Dancing Queen, Sweet Caroline and so many other 80s songs you’d think we were all too young to know. It’s safe to say that at this point we had all very much let out hair down and gotten to know probably a bit too much about one another.
So that was training week over, an intense week with some pretty cool people. All the awkwardness and shyness had officially gone. Safe to say after this week had finished, I was officially excited to start the role and begin the term, despite being extremely tired and in need of a few lay ins over the weekend.
(16th September 2019 – 20th September 2019)
Monday rolled around again and the realisation that another full-on week was about to start had begun to set in. I spent the day running over my introduction presentation for the freshers and continuously editing it to try and make it perfect. It was nice to kind of have the day off and not have to be anywhere, kind of like the calm before the rest of the weeks storm.
Level 4 SES and SM | A very blurry photo of us at Ilora’s thanks to Elle
Tuesday was the day I had to deliver the level 4 freshers’ presentations to the sport courses cohort, I surprisingly was not nervous. I think it was because I didn’t know them at all, and I could be compassionate for just how much they probably didn’t want to sit and listen to all these various people before me talking about employability when you’ve not even had your first day yet. I’d been allocated 20 minutes to do my presentation in, but for each presentation everyone was overrunning taking 5minutes off my time each session and so by the final presentation I pretty much only had around 5 minutes to talk about the things the SU offers and try to recruitment first year reps. Needless to say it was a very challenging day, to which I almost lost my voice to. It was, however, nice to have students come up at the end or ask me questions to see how they can put themselves forward.
Wednesday was a big one!! The incredibly organised chaos that is Freshers Fayre. This year freshers’ fayre was very much different to my own and last years, the SU stand was the focal point and the stage just behind with all the stands and food weaving around the rest of the space. The morning was mostly spent doing wandering the stalls seeing if they’re all set up, checking if they needed anything. The SU this year had reusable cotton bags with slogans on for the environment, my own one reads “Alternatives to plastic are FANTASTIC”, they were such a great idea and everyone coming and wondering the fayre received one. I in particular was handing them out, and pretty much ensuring people took one. We later had to give a tour the VIPs of the university. I was with Jacqui Boddington, Leigh Robinson and Jake Bailey, we somehow lost Jake during the tour but both Jacqui and Leigh seemed to enjoy the fayre and commented on the layout. When giving the tour I was able to some them some of the new societies that the university had, such as Filipino society and climate justice society, they both were particularly interested in the latter with it only having been created two weeks prior. Towards the end of the day we were all able to get involved in the stage events, particularly Bingo Lingo, in which we all danced our hearts out and Keira won a GIANT yellow inflatable duck. I have no clue where she’s going to store it, but yay a giant duck.
Thursday of freshers’ week was equally as crazy as the rest of the days, it didn’t need to be though, I made it that way. I had decided that in order to re-engage the level 5’s I would duck into as many plenary sessions of theirs as possible, but it was also agreed that I would attend the level 6 plenary sessions also. I’m pretty certain that if anyone was watching me on Thursday I was running around like a headless chicken. The level 5’s were easy, the level 6’s not so much, I was very nervous for my own cohort. It was people I knew and had spent the last two years with, my friends, housemates and people I’d had to do unsuccessful group work with. But in the end, I did it. I managed to attend 14 different plenary sessions for both second and third years. My final one was a lot more relaxed and was with SPE level 5’s, I carried out my brief talk and then was asked to stay in order to be a part of a Q&A for students to ask anything they wanted. I was able to give them a slight insight into the course for a level 5 student and answered questions about social/academic balance and the level of difference between first and second year. Thursday evening, we had been invited to Ilora’s, the chair of the board of Governors. It was such a lovely evening with amazing food, and we also discovered that Delphi and Bella were incredibly at good piano. I would say it was probably the most sophisticated evening I had been to on my own but was great to meet someone so invested in student feedback and students in general.
The final day of freshers has arrived, Friday, finally. MetFest was here. We were told today was very much more relaxed with us not really having to work but at least be good ambassadors for the SU. As any good ambassador would do…they ride the fairground ride about 5 time in the first hour of it opening. There was so much for everyone to get involved in, the Kilo thrift store, silent disco, cocktail making, henna, glitter and so much more. We were all very excited for the silent disco, and so when it started, we were the first ones to sign out the headphones and boogie till we were too hot and could take any more dancing. The sun was beaming, mamma Mia was playing and pizza was rolling out. As the day began to draw to a close, we chilled in Zen and just listened to Sam Freeman who was playing, it was a nice way to end the week just listening to music and having a sit down.
Keira not looking impressed by excitement | Mamma Mia
I can honestly say those two weeks were very tiring, and I’m pretty certain at freshers’ fayre and MetFest I survived on 1 slice of domino’s pizza. Great pizza but probably should’ve eaten more. It was such a couple weeks, we worked but also were able to bond as a team a lot in a variety of ways. Some with the aid of alcoholic beverages and then some without, all equally lovely. I’m apprehensive of the year ahead but also very excited to get the ball officially rolling. I definitely think by the end of the year my ability to manage my time will be a fine-tuned skill, along with my communication skills.
So that’s it, freshers is over. Now the real work starts!