Getting the most out of uni

Carpe diem

Your time at university is short, yet the opportunities are vast. From listening to world-leading experts in the lecture theatre to joining clubs and societies, there is something on offer for everyone.

Find out how fellow students have made the most out of their time at Nottingham and think about how you will 'seize the day'.


Student case studies 


SVC Sophie Little – Student Experience

Sophie Little, an English Language and Literature student, has been volunteering since she was at College, and seized the opportunity to get involved at University when she heard about the Students’ Union’s Student Volunteer Centre (SVC).


What Volunteering Projects have you been involved with?

During my first year I went to a few one off events including painting a war memorial in Dunkirk and murals at local schools. Now I am in my second year I have continued to get involved in one off events including the Parkinson’s Society's spooky sprint, Oxjam and Student Volunteer Centre taster sessions making cards for sick children and making wiggly bags for children with Cancer.


What encouraged you to volunteer at the Student Volunteer Centre?

I am really passionate about supporting charities and volunteered a lot when I was at College, this made me want to get involved when I came to University. I also enjoy charity fundraising so I have just got involved with Golden Futures and I hope to get involved with READ International and Childline volunteering in the future to help improve children’s’ lives.


What have you really enjoyed about volunteering?

Volunteering is fun and it really feels like you are making a difference however much time you can spare! It is great to be proactive in the community and find out more about what is going on in the local area. You meet loads of new people with similar interests and I have great memories of events and have met some very inspiring people.


Have you got any advice for students who want to volunteer?

My best advice to anyone who is thinking about volunteering is to be confident and go for it! If you can get involved everything you do makes a difference, however much time you can spare, even if you can only contribute an hour.


The Student Volunteer Centre is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (from 11am on Tuesdays). Students can drop in any time to find out more about volunteering. 



Getting involved with your Student's Union

The Students’ Union help every student to have the best social and academic experience possible while at Nottingham. As Medicine student Rob Greenhalgh found out, the range of opportunities it offers are vast. Here he talks about juggling his course with various roles held at the SU. 


What opportunities have you taken advantage while at University?

When it comes to opportunities I am a bit of a yes man and get involved in a lot of things that really interest me. Nottingham has offered me so much outside of my degree that the decision to come and study here has been hands down the best decision of my life.

I have been heavily involved with the Students' Union (SU), gone on exchange to Australia for six months to study Children's and Women's Health and am now an elected committee member of the British Medical Association while getting on with my degree!

There is no doubt that Medicine is a very demanding course and there have been times when I feel like I literally have too much going on. Would I change it though ... not a chance. You get so much out of extra-curricular activities that it is definitely worth it.


Why did you decide to get involved with the SU?

In first year I got involved in sport at Hugh Stewart Hall (the best hall on campus!) and became a Week One Rep. I absolutely loved being involved with Week One and decided to apply for the SU’s Head of Week One role the following year. It was a big decision that took up most of my 2nd year summer volunteering but organising an allencompassing welcome event for almost 7000 students was an incredible experience. It was at this point that I truly started to understand how much you can get out of the SU if you get involved.

I then ran for SU president. Somehow I managed to win the election whilst being on Medical placement in Derby. This triggered a year out of my course as I represented 38,000 students across all our campuses.

With this post I became a University Governor, the Chair of Trustees for the SU and a Director of a company that turns over £5million a year. What I learnt about people, teams, leadership, law, finance and HR that year was astounding. I had the best year of my life, it was a huge privilege to hold such a high office at such a young age and I would recommend it to anyone.

What other job, at the age of 21, gives you the opportunity to run a multi million pound organisation, lobby the government, make real change, travel to campuses in China and Malaysia and to even have a PA looking after you. After this role a lot of opportunities get offered to you and it really does set you up well for the future.


How do you think your experiences at Nottingham will help you in your future career?

The skills you gain from getting involved in the SU can really set you apart in the graduate job market. Personally I am sticking with Clinical Medicine so getting a job should be automatic on graduation.

Following my year as SU President it was clear to me that Organisational Leadership is something that I love and want to be involved with longer term. The skills I have learnt outside of my course in Nottingham have put me into a position to apply for specific jobs as a Junior Doctor that will teach me about NHS Management and Clinical Leadership.

*** Since this interview Rob has decided to take up a two year leadership foundation programme in Brighton.


Would you encourage other students to get involved in the SU and other activities and why?

This is the easiest question I have ever been asked. The Students' Union provides hundreds of opportunities to be involved with sport, societies, charity fundraising, volunteering, committees, student media and campaigns to name just a few. You will get a lot out of getting involved! It is a great way to make friends with similar interests, to have fun and to boost you CV. Just do it, you won't regret it!




Staying actively involved

Just months after taking up Badminton through the University’s Nu2 Sport initiative, Neuroscience student Will Turner has landed himself a role with the sport’s organising body – Badminton England. Find out how he got involved and what his new role will involve.


Why did you decide to get involved in Nu2 Sport?

I have done quite a lot of volunteering in a variety of areas, and I had been looking to get involved with something while at University. I thought that NU2 Sport had a lot of potential as it has quite a good niche because it focuses on participation, fun and a chance to try something new. Volunteering for NU2 Sport combines my personal interest in sport and physical activities with the chance to help other people to participate.


Why should others take part?

In volunteering with NU2 sport you can attain and develop many important skills, both intrapersonal and interpersonal; such as time management, organisation, and public speaking. Not only does it make for a fantastic talking point on your CV, but both volunteers and the students who attend weekly sessions are all very friendly and there can be great satisfaction in helping someone try an activity for the first time or seeing people having fun and enjoying the sport that I enjoy.

In terms of attending the sessions, I know I’m biased but I really do recommend coming to them, even if it’s an activity you have never tried before but like the sound of, the atmosphere is so relaxed and everyone is there for the same reason; to have fun while taking part in a sport.


How did the opportunity to get involved with Badminton England come about?

After a couple of months volunteering with NU2 Sport I was asked if I was interested in setting up and running my own badminton programme. It is a franchise of Badminton England called No Strings Badminton, that is in place across the country and so has a large support network. It wasn’t a simple decision to make, as I have to dedicate a lot of time each week to it, and I have to balance it with my degree, my social life and NU2 Sport as well. After several meetings with people I will be working with both from the University and Badminton England, I decided to accept the position, and am currently trying manage the beginning of this project with my revision for my January exams!


What will your role with them involve?

I will be setting up and running a weekly badminton session at the University, primarily aimed at students. This involves managing my own budget, marketing campaign and planning of each session. I can’t say too much at the moment because I’m still in the process of planning the project! In January I will be attending a National meeting with other HE officers, where I hope to pick up lots of useful tips and advice from the week-by-week running to the paperwork and the long-term plans.

You can find out more about No Strings Badminton on facebook.




Life as an international student

PhD Microbiology student Joseph Egbenya Igetei, choose to leave Nigeria to study at Nottingham, due to the international standing of the University, the state of the art facilities available and the potential to secure international collaborations. Here Joseph tell us about life as an international student and what support is available.


What support is available at Nottingham to help an international student settle in?

Support at Nottingham comes in many different forms, from the support of the International Office, who assisted me with registration and provided a laptop, to the Students’ Union societies who welcome anybody who wants to join.

International Welcome Week was also a fantastic opportunity to meet with other students, through a series of orientation and entertainment events.

Finally, I was able to interact with students and tutors in various fields through School activities and seminars. My personal tutor is also available to provide prompt guidance, encouragement and support during regular meetings.


Which scholarship did you apply for and how has it helped you study?

I received an International Research Excellence Scholarship, within six weeks of applying for it online. The scholarship covers my full tuition fee which could have been very difficult to afford otherwise. It also motivated me to work hard in my studies and removed the potential stress of having to find sufficient funds. I am now planning to apply for a supplementary scholarship to cover living expenses.


Why are you pleased to be studying at Nottingham?

I am able to benefit from good facilities, study materials and equipment, which provide me with everything I need to carry out my research. My supervisor and other staff are very supportive, caring and understanding.

Since I have been here, I have been afforded the opportunity to attend and participate in both local and international conferences, seminars and training. The University also affords me the privilege of interacting with fellow researchers and students from all over the world, due to the number of international students it attracts.


What advice would you give to others thinking of studying at Nottingham?

Studying at Nottingham is a very good choice to make. For many years now it has retained its status as one of the best universities in the world. It is friendly to international students and creates equal opportunities to all who study here.

There is plenty of support on offer, but I found that by completing the online registration, uploading my photograph and booking my accommodation early, I was able to start my studies straight away.




Championing student voice

Marie Scott became the first student based at Derby Hospital to win a Students’ Union honorary membership award, after being recognised for her contribution to enhancing the experience of her fellow student nurses. The former Police Officer, explains how she adopted to University life and the issues that she championed while studying.


What was the most challenging aspect of your course and University experience?

I worked as a uniformed Police Officer with the Derbyshire Constabulary for 13 years, but for as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a nurse. I found studying at University to be like an emotional roller coaster – good days and not so good days (the good days outweigh the tough ones!).

You have to be prepared to work hard and I found it financially challenging (so did my husband!). However, the hard work is so worth it when you graduate and you attend your graduation ceremony – there is no feeling like it. I now work as a Staff Nurse in A&E and have my dream job. It’s great to have a wage too!


You're the first Derby-based student to win an honorary membership award, how does it feel?

Gosh! That is an awesome feeling. I am extremely proud to receive this award and want to thank those who nominated me. I somewhat feel a fraud as I enjoyed every minute of being a student and thoroughly enjoyed my work as a student rep. It has been such an honour to represent students and I feel very privileged for the amazing opportunities I had.


Why did you choose to get involved with the Students' Union?

I was impressed with how the SU really care for students and the passion they have to ensure a 'quality' university experience. The SU is committed to developing Student Engagement – a concept I am strongly in favour of and that benefits all students. I was also impressed with the charity work, the abundance of activities, sports, hobbies and social outings available to students; plus the awards that the SU and sub groups have achieved.

All this inspired me to be a part of it, to help students get the most out of their University life. I am very passionate about welfare, education, personal development, promoting student voice and the excellence of Nottingham University. Believe me, the University does listen to students and takes their feedback/ideas seriously.

I would encourage other students to get involved, not only for the satisfaction they will gain, but also for the amazing opportunities available to them. For example, I have attended and spoken at conferences, provided support for students, prepared small presentations, attended open days, met some amazing and inspiring people and developed a host of new and transferable skills. I have accomplished things that I never believed I was capable of and the SU provide reps with brilliant support/advice.


How do you now reflect on your time at The University of Nottingham? 

I choose this University because of its reputation for quality education, for the recognition a qualification from this University has with employers and for its recognition for listening and responding to the student voice.

My nursing course has changed my life. I’ve met many inspirational people from the University and from my clinical placements; forming new and wonderful friendships, which has had more impact on my life than my years as a serving police officer.



Students at Sutton Bonington campus have challenged the stereotypical student diet of pot noodles and frozen pizzas by setting up their own Farmers' Market. Now a regular event, the market offers a wide range of healthy local produce, from across the region. Market organiser and Nutrition and Food Science student, Harriet Bundy, explains why she got involved.

Why did you get involved in the Sutton Bonington Farmer’s Market?

The market was setup last May and I'd always thought it was a brilliant idea that was well-needed! This was especially true since Sutton Bonington campus is not within instant reach of cheap supermarkets! When I had the opportunity to run for the committee I jumped at the chance to help organise it when the AGM came around in June 2011.


What skills have you picked up from organising and running the event?

What skills haven’t I picked up! I've done everything from liaising with potential stallholders to sending out reminders and helping on the day. It's helped my organisational skills and communication with new people; in person, on the phone and via email.

I have contacted many local media outlets to promote the market, designed posters, flyers and helped to distribute them. On the day of the markets themselves, I've helped to receive stallholders and generally ensure that the market runs smoothly.


What feedback have you received from those who have attended?

Any feedback we've received has been so helpful and essential for the progression of the market. We've improved the number and variety of stalls, even including some that have been directly suggested in feedback. The opening times of the market have been altered to suit our attendees as well as the number and quality of discounts available to our members.


What advice would you give to other students looking to set up their own event?

For other students I would tell them to persevere through any difficulties and tackle them head on. When the market was first established there were some finiancial difficulties but thanks to its founders (Emily, Selina, Soirse and Sarah) everything was sorted and the market is now so much better off!


What has been your personal highlight of being involved?

It's been amazing to work with the commitee and the stallholders. They are all very helpful people and I've gained many contacts in the food industry. Plus it's been so useful to use the experience in job interviews. Potential employers are very excited to hear about my experiences on the committee and what I have learnt throughout the year.



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