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The University of Southampton
Mathematical Sciences

Sadie Belsey MMath Mathematics

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Hi, I'm Sadie Belsey and I studied MMath Mathematics within Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

My course is extremely interesting, and a big part of this is due to the quality of the lecturers. It's easy to tell how enthusiastic they are about their subject, and it really helps me engage with the material.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I chose to study at Southampton because of the wide variety of modules offered on the Mathematics courses. I liked that students had the option of studying a broad range of subjects, or specialising, depending on their interests. I also loved how many trees and green spaces there are on campus.

What were you anxious about before coming to Southampton?

Before coming to Southampton I was anxious about getting back into studying. I’d had two years out since my A-Levels, and I’d gotten used to working life and being independent. I was worried the uni “bubble” would detract from that and make me feel like I was in school again. 

Once at Southampton, how were your fears overcome?

Being able to live in a studio flat in Mayflower halls in the city helped me still feel like I was living independently, and that my life didn’t revolve around one place. In addition, I found lecturers very friendly and respectful of my autonomy as an adult. There’s an understanding between academics and students that we’re in control of our own learning, they’re simply there to share their passion, which was completely different to being at school.

What is it like studying here?

Studying at Southampton has given me such a feeling of community. The maths department in particular are a very close knit group – I feel like I know a lot of the students and academics very well, and I always feel like I have someone to go to when I need help (in any aspect of my life). I was incredibly shy when I first came to uni, so being part of this group has helped me break out of my shell and grow immeasurably in confidence.

As well as the community within the department, I’ve found clubs and societies to be an essential part of having fun and coping with the stresses of adult life. From these, I’ve gotten a new hobby, aerial sports. This is easily my favourite pastime now, which is surprising, considering my experience with sports before uni was playing virtual tennis on the Nintendo Wii.

My course is extremely interesting, and a big part of this is due to the quality of the lecturers. It’s easy to tell how enthusiastic they are about their subject, and it really helps me engage with the material. In one particular module in my 3rd year, the lecturer was so engaging and encouraging that it reminded me why I enjoy maths when I’d been having a difficult time, and convinced me to do an extra year.

How do you rate study facilities at the University?

In general, the facilities around campus are very good. There are lots of study spaces. I particularly like the ones with microwaves, so you can bring lunch to uni from home. It’s also very useful having access to computers and printers in the library, as well as the huge selection of books, of course. I’ve been finding these more and more useful when doing research for my final project.

It’s great to have a fully equipped sports centre with a swimming pool and a climbing wall too – there’s plenty of opportunity to unwind from studying.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences) so far?

There are so many highlights from my time at Southampton so far. The first that comes to mind is joining the Aerial Sports Society and discovering my love for aerial silks – I know this will be a lifelong passion, and I wouldn’t have discovered it if I hadn’t found the society.

The next highlight is my 3rd year Graph Theory module. I was inspired by this module and the lecturer to learn more outside of uni, and undertake a research project exploring the subject further. This ultimately led to me staying on to do a masters, which I am so glad I did.

Finally, I’ve had so many opportunities to connect with wonderful people. I play poker every week with a couple of academics and my course-mates, I’ve met amazing people at my part-time job in Southampton, and I’ve made life-long friends with my housemates. 

How has your time at Southampton helped you to grow as a person?

My time at Southampton has definitely helped me to grow as a person. I obviously have a much greater depth of knowledge of maths, and the ability to effectively research the things I don’t know. Meeting so many people and working as a student ambassador at open days has greatly increased my social and public speaking skills. I have a newfound confidence in my abilities as a mathematician, and in more practical things, like sports, and cooking from scratch. I feel much happier with the person I’ve become after coming to uni here than I was before.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

What I enjoy most about my course is the chance to learn new things from people who are dedicated, intelligent, and are just as excited by my subjects as I am.

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area?

I’ve had the opportunity to study non-maths modules during my course. In my first year I took a music performance module, as I have played the flute since I was 10. This enabled me to get free flute lessons from a high quality teacher, and learn new repertoire I hadn’t previously heard of.

In my third year I took a module in beginner Japanese, which I loved. I’ve always been fascinated by Japanese culture, and it’s the place I want to visit most in the world. Even though it was only a beginner module, I feel like I could make myself understood in Japan if I were to go travelling there, which is a huge bonus considering how different the language and writing is there than in the UK.

Did you/do you stay in University accommodation?

I stayed in University accommodation in Mayflower Halls. I’d already tried living with random people and didn’t enjoy it, so I went for a studio flat. It was great having my own kitchen and ensuite bathroom. It was also very useful to always have someone there to accept deliveries, and to know that if I needed help there was 24-hour security.

What is the city of Southampton like to live in?

Southampton is a brilliant city to be a student in – there are lots of options when it comes to nightlife, and it’s much more affordable to go on a night out here than it would be in some other university cities. The Mayflower Theatre shows performances of official UK touring productions, which have often come from the West End. The city centre also has all the shops and restaurants you would ever need, including plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, which is important for me.

What three words sum up how you feel about your experiences so far at Southampton?

Confident, supported, happy.

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