Name: Tara K.
University & Graduation Year: University of Bath 2025
High School: Nord Anglia International School Dubai
Major/Program: Architecture

1. As a first-year student, what was the biggest surprise about college life? Were there any specific challenges you faced or adjustments you had to make?

Growing up in the same place my whole life (without ever moving) made me subconsciously get used to people around me being very similar to me – in terms of lifestyle, values, etc. However, when arriving I got a bit of a culture shock. It was a reminder that people all over the world are so different.

I would say I faced two main challenges. Firstly, I, unfortunately, didn’t really click with my flatmates – everyone was polite and friendly but I definitely wasn’t best friends with them, which I think is an expectation that many people have. Sadly, it doesn’t always happen, but that’s okay, I just had to make friends with other people. My second challenge was the workload on my course and dealing with that when most of my friends take different subjects with a way lighter workload. It was a bit difficult to accept, and I would constantly think I was missing out, but I learned to balance everything and now understand that I’m doing my best.

2. If you could do your first year/term of college again, what changes would you make and why?

I would put myself more out there and try some more societies. Although I made a good amount of friends, I feel like I didn’t take advantage of how much the university offers outside of academics.

3. What makes your college special? What is your favorite thing about it?

The fact that it’s a campus university and is only 15 minutes away from the city by car. I feel like you get the best of both worlds. The environment is beautiful and very green, which really makes a difference to my mood. I love the fact that everyone is nice in Bath;on the streets everyone is helpful and polite.

4. Are there any misconceptions out there about your college? What would you like to share with students who might be considering applying?

I think that most people get put off by Bath, because they think it’s a small town and there’s not much to do. Honestly, it looks tiny compared to London, but I think it has more to offer than what people realize. I also think it is a good-paced city for undergraduate students just starting out and there is always Bristol 15 minutes away and London 1 hour away by train, if you ever need a bit of a change or excitement.

5. Are you involved in any clubs, teams, or other extracurricular activities? If so, tell us how this has shaped your college experience.

I am a part of the Hellenic Society and Arab Society. There are so

many extracurriculars that exist that there is truly something for everyone. I enjoyed joining these societies because I got to meet like-minded people of similar cultures and values, which improved my experience, socially. However, with such a demanding degree like architecture, I don’t always have the time to do other things I love, like painting. I personally didn’t join any sports teams because that’s not my preferred type of exercise, but it is a big part of the Bath culture and creates a big social community among those teams. People seem to really enjoy it.

6. If you could give your high school self any advice about college admissions, what would you say? Having been through the college admissions process, what is the biggest lesson you learned?

Don’t just apply to the top schools; apply to schools where you actually could see yourself living and fitting into the environment. I was lucky that my top school happened to suit me very well, because I later realized that I actually wouldn’t have enjoyed most of my other choices. The biggest lesson I learned was to have faith in yourself and trust that you will end up where you’re meant to be. Just because a university takes long to reply doesn’t mean you’ve been rejected; my top school was the last to accept me.

7. How has COVID altered your college experience? Do you have any specific advice about attending college in the post-pandemic world?

I was quite lucky that since architecture is quite a hands-on degree, they prioritized us and made sure we had as much in-person teaching as possible in the first year. So I was fortunate to have everything in-person – I was only online if a professor had gotten COVID. They still made it quite flexible so the lectures were in-person, but also recorded and uploaded online later which was easier for when people couldn’t attend.I know that having them recorded definitely demotivated students to go, but I kept myself quite disciplined with it and attended. I would definitely advise attending as much in-person as possible, because there’s no point in paying to go to university if you stay home all day, every day. Also it helps you make friends on your course, which is very important so you can go to a friend if you need support.

8. In hindsight, was there any class you did or activity you participated in high school that especially helped prepare you for college?

In regards to architecture, I think there isn’t really any class in high school that can prepare you, because there’s nothing like it. What I will admit though, is that the amount of work given overall in the IB taught me to be way more organized with my time and get less overwhelmed when juggling so many different things at university. Also that the IB requires people to do coursework which trains students to learn university-level essay-writing and referencing which not many other curricula do.

9. What has been your most memorable experience or activity of your college career so far? It can be academic or non-academic.

Being in Bath has given me the opportunity to travel easily around the UK and Europe which has been an enjoyable and different experience especially after having lived my whole life in Dubai.