Sam Semwayo

Horology BA (Hons)

Sam had not wanted to go to university initially but knew he wanted to learn a trade. Despite the uncertainty of coming to uni Sam has thrown himself into uni life, discovering new talents with the rowing team and gaining work experience in the luxury jewellery market in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

"I had not wanted to go to university initially, but I knew I wanted a skill. I have always been good with my hands and liked the idea of being able to make a living that way. I was weighing up my options when I saw the horology course listed on the BCU website and soon realised that it was the only course of its kind.

For those of you who’ve never heard that word before, it refers to the study and measurement of time and the art of making watches and clocks. This course appealed to me like no other as it offered both the academic side of a degree, that would allow me to develop my research skills, but also the practical aspect that would help me have a trade after university. 

The main challenge for me before starting university was mainly just the fear of the unknown. At A Level I had taken more written-oriented subjects and did not know a huge amount about horology. However, in the first few days of the course I realised that there were a number of different skill levels amongst the students and we all had quite varied academic backgrounds.

Studying on such a practical course has allowed me to work on a number of different projects that I’m very proud of, as they have showed the progression in my ability. Being located in Birmingham has given me a number of different opportunities, which I hadn’t necessarily expected. The School of Jewellery's location in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter means no materials or tools are out of reach, and I’ve been able to get a job that helped to subsidise all my expenses, as well as gain valuable work experience in the luxury jewellery market.

I decided to join the rowing team this year which has given me the chance to join a whole new community, better myself physically, as well as representing a team and the university.  Winning our varsity race against Aston University was a real stand-out moment and showed how far I have come in a sport that I had never taken part in prior to uni. I’m hoping to help my teammates place well at our remaining races this year and finish the projects I have undertaken on my course to a high standard.

On my course there’s been a number of times when I’ve needed advice and help with my work and I can honestly say that the horology department has a close knit group of lecturers, who are never more than an email away for any sort of help. This has been extremely supportive through the tougher periods of uni with both work and my personal life.

The most challenging aspect for university has been my practical work on my course. Coming as a novice to the course meant that I was basically starting from scratch, however this has made it all the more rewarding when I have completed projects. I came to university to be challenged and I am glad to say that I have been.

Fitting in at BCU has been the easiest part of uni life for me, although this was one of my biggest worries. Living in halls in first year meant I got to live down the corridor from many of my closest friends, and I’ve also found friends on my course - probably because of the amount of time we spend in workshops together! The rowing society has offered me a whole other group of friends and I have formed close bonds with my teammates. It’s really nice to have such a mix of people surrounding me who have things in common with me, but are very different to each other.

Outside of uni, the city has so much to offer whether its night life you’re after or a growing community of small independent places to eat and shop as well as major retailers. Pretty much anything you can think of is in the centre and that makes it a great city to be in and very hard to get bored of.

Studying at BCU has definitely made me a better rounded person, I have gained independence living away from home. I feel more comfortable travelling and meeting new people. I also feel physically stronger and healthier as a result of the rowing society. I’ve learnt to budget (even if I’ve not always stuck to it), how to handle stress and deadlines in an appropriate and mature way and to top it all off I‘ve gained a trade and a wide group of peers that challenge me to be better, in many aspects of my life. 

The thing I like most at BCU has to be student living. Living an independent life, whilst also being able to spend much of my time with friends, has made the whole experience more fun than I could have ever thought possible. It’s hard to feel lonely with so much and so many people around you. I feel I have made friends for life whilst being able to get a degree.

To me, ‘I AM BCU’ reflects how I have contributed to the university with my hard work and representation through sport, and how the university has contributed to the person that I am today and will remain a part of my life long after I have graduated."

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