PhD student urges new class of 2016/17 to ‘make the most of the university experience’

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Landscape Architecture PhD student Anastasia Nikologianni provides her top tips and key pieces of advice for new students about to embark on their journeys at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, and urges that they ‘make the most of the university experience’.

Familiarise yourself with the campus and the facilities

New students usually spend time uncovering where rooms are and what facilities the campus has to offer. They will normally get an induction and tour around the campus during Welcome Week or at the beginning of the course.

However, it would be a good idea to set some time aside to see where your course lectures take place. This will help to uncover other potentially useful facilities such as the Art Materials Store, the Students' Union and Student Services. Having a good grasp of your surroundings will help you settle in.

In landscape architecture we often use the workshops to explore elements such as wood, laser cutters and 3D printing, and sometimes even the photography studios. Find out where they are and how you can get access to them (It’s a lot of fun!). 

Build your professional network right from induction week

The induction week sometimes seems to be an information overload and can be a bit daunting, but there are many interesting talks happening during that time not to be overlooked. In particular, talks from the Landscape Institute, the Royal Chartered body for Landscape architects and Landscape professionals, will give you the opportunity to become a student member right from the beginning, so you can go ahead and start building your professional network right from the off!

In many cases, there are other talks from practitioners that will give you an insight into what they will look for in a potential employee and will help you to start building your skills around that. 

The induction also provides an opportunity to find out about student blogs, websites and groups that will help you chat and communicate with current students, which will help you find out more about the course and clear up any issues that you might have.

Have a look at previous student work

If you haven't already, start looking at previous student work or even developed professional landscape schemes. The reason for this is not to compare your current skills with the skills illustrated on these projects, or to intimidate you right at the start of your course, but instead allows you to start to understand a bit more about how landscape design works, exploring how concepts have been developed, the reasons behind the designer’s decisions and the impact that these decisions have on the delivery of the project. This will give you a good 'push' at the beginning of the academic year as you'll already be familiar with a few ideas. 

Get to know students and staff alike

Your degree will be an extremely exciting journey over the next few years, but to make this last you should make the most of the university experience. One way that you can do this is through spending as much time as you can on campus, it's a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art facility so it's a pretty awesome place to study in your own time. By doing this, you will make great friends and bond with your colleagues, whilst also getting to know the tutors and staff a bit better.  

Participate in the events organised by the School and the University

As a new student it will take you a while to find out about the many different subject-based events and activities that take place around the University. But don’t worry, you can always ask your tutors to share such information with you, this will make it much easier.

Staying at an evening lecture after a long day of tutorials might not seem ideal or very appealing initially, but it will give you the opportunity to interact with professionals, listen to invited speakers and have a better understanding of the profession. This will definitely encourage progression within your course as it will give you information that you can use within assessments and landscape designs. 

To keep up to date with all of the latest news and information from Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, follow @BCU_BSoAD.

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