Most of you spent the precious extra hour yesterday in bed.
I didn’t. But it was totally and utterly worth it.
A couple of weeks ago our External Relations department asked for any volunteers to work on Open Days the University runs for prospective students.
I love volunteering for events across the Uni, I learn so much and I enjoy doing something different as you know by now, so I signed up.
I didn’t realise I had to be at the University at 7:15am on a Sunday!
Early mornings is not my strongest point so I’m glad I had that extra hour. The morning walk was amazing. It was very quiet, I could only hear the birds and a car or two every now and then. There’s something special being awake, out and about when most people are still in bed.
I arrived at the Uni on time and the lovely Rebecca who plans and runs the Open Days at the University briefed us on what our duties would be on the day.
After a quick check of the teaching rooms and a warm, delicious coffee and a chocolate cookie we were ready to welcome our future students and their family and friends.
I was placed at the Atrium, where all the information stands were set, where all the action happens and I spent most of the day doing something I really love, chatting to people. I chatted to prospective students and their guests directing them where they wanted to go, answering any questions I could and of course talking to them about our impressive new building, the Spark.
Everyone was in awe of the Pod!
What I enjoyed the most was chatting to our Student Ambassadors. As most of support staff working at Universities, especially in my most recent position at Solent, I don’t get to talk to students as often (or work with them as I used to), the ones who we really work for, to make their experience the best it can get. I think all staff should spend time with students, it’s an eye opener.
I loved hearing them talk about their course, how much they enjoy and love it, what they want to do next, their dreams about the future, unspoiled and untouched by the harsh reality of being an adult. And I loved sharing what I learnt from my life so far and advising them to be bold and fearless, follow their dreams NOW and not wait for anything.
Nicola, who did an amazing job as a team leader on the day, studies Acoustic Engineering and she told me all about her amazing dissertation proposal. Unfortunately I can’t share it in case someone reads this and steals her idea.
Deana is studying Criminology, which she absolutely loves and she wants to move to London after her studies. I loved my time with Deana, we talked about food, TV shows and movies (Stranger Things was mentioned a lot!), her life as a student and her struggles. At that moment I realised how similar student life is to single adult life (or maybe how similar is my life to student life…) but also how much I learned and changed since I left Uni.
Maria is studying Fine Art and she is moving to Portsmouth to work at the Historic Dockyard after she finishes her studies!
I also got the chance to talk to Greek and Cypriot students. Oh I loved it so much. Talking in my mother language to young Greeks. I felt like their eldest sister, giving them advice and listening to their dreams and aspirations. It made me miss home but it also felt like home.
I thoroughly enjoyed talking to some of our academics and course leaders and learn about the amazing work they do. Baxter the robot impressed everyone who interacted with it!
I’d describe the whole experience as a big party, a celebration of our University. Academics, support staff, students, future students all together in our beautiful teaching space.
I’m still tired and my legs hurt but I’d do it every day if I could. I’d advise any University staff to volunteer to help with Open Days. You’ll learn more than you expect about the University, our staff and students. And you’ll spend a day with lovely colleagues.
Thank you to Rebecca who let me be part of this.