Undergraduate student Savanna Hirth, reading BA Social Policy.

Savanna Hirth

Please tell us a bit about yourself

I am from London, and am currently embarking on my first year here at Leeds. I am living in Lyddon Hall which is an on campus, catered accommodation. It's has provided me with a fabulous place to settle in and feel comfortable whilst starting university. During my free time, I work for the student union in a shop called Salad Box, which has been a great experience! 

What motivated you to apply for your course at Leeds?

I originally put Bristol as my first choice, but after visiting Leeds, I immediately switched to Leeds as my first. To me, Leeds felt like a ‘mini London’, in the sense that it felt busy and vibrant, and maintained a constant variety of things to do. I felt this buzz within Leeds best fitted my personality, as I liked that this was a city to be explored as there is just so much going on.

With each open day for each university visited, I would ask myself, ‘do you see yourself living here?’ When visiting Leeds, it felt like a comfortable environment for me, and instantly felt like home. When listening to the sociology lecturers discuss the course, I could feel their adoration and constant curiosity to understand more about social patterns of change. This enthusiasm matched my passion, which is something that all the other universities had lacked.

What I adore about sociology is discovering the meanings and impacts of various social changes, as well as historical changes. Consequently, through reading a vast array of researched theories, it enables me to form my own stance on the subject, and develop it further through reading about counter arguments of sociologists, this is especially done within the module named, ‘Sociology of modern societies’. I was also keen to develop my research skills, which is what this course offers.

With Social Policy, I was drawn in by the practicality of understanding how sociological theory can be used to create policy. I was especially encouraged by the Poor Laws module, which featured both topics of welfare state, globalisation and green issues, which I was keen to learn more about in an academic environment. I was swayed by the vast array of topics which Leeds offer to generating deeper understandings of society and its rapid changes.  

What do you think of your course?

During semester one, for the module Understanding and researching Contemporary Society, I had to create a 1,000 word research proposal. Mine focused on the relevance of Facebook in our social lives, maintaining the hypothesis:To what extent, if at all, is Facebook impacting the social participation of undergraduate students? Not only was this assessment brilliant practice for when I am in third year and am faced with my dissertation, but it also gave me the opportunity to practice my research skills. This was a successful proposal, and part of my feedback suggested I consider this topic for my dissertation.

Another highlight of the course was with the module Sociology of Modern Societies whereby one of the lectures was titled Cathedrals of consumption. This lecture encouraged me to consider the act of shopping, questioning why I do it, how I do it, and how it makes me feel. I no longer enjoy online shopping.

How would you describe the guidance you've received?

I have received considerable guidance from the staff within the school. This has most definitely guided me through semester one, especially when set my first university assessments. By visiting seminar leaders and the lecturers of my assessment topics, I could discuss my ideas with the actual lecturers of that topic, as well as seminar leaders who knew me very well. As a result of this, I received necessary and highly useful feedback to aid this supposedly daunting process.

To begin with, I was very anxious for these assessments, however through considering various ideas with my lecturers, leaders and personal tutor, this gave me confidence and consequently I was successful in the process. Furthermore, having a personal tutor has meant I can discuss with someone any queries of confusions about university. This is a huge security net, and has allowed me to feel comfortable in knowing where to go. 

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

There is a wide array of opportunities at Leeds University, the brilliant and highly savvy gym, whereby energy generated from the machines is used as renewable energy. Those living in halls instantly receive free membership for off peak times as part of the contract, which is just a wonderful luxury! The variety of libraries means studying does not need to be so mundane, locked away in your room. My favourite is the Laidlaw library, mainly because it offers many seating types which just makes studying comfortable and enjoyable. However, the Brotherton library provides such a peaceful environment, and is just a beautiful place to do your reading.

Have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities?

During my first few weeks at university I decided to sign up for a few societies to give it a go. This consisted of Buddhist Meditation Society and Hiking Society. These became major interests of mine, ones which I am still a part of today. With meditation society I regularly attend every Wednesday, as well as socials such as a mindful eating curry night. With Hiking society, I visited Edale for the day, and the Lake District for a weekend. Both societies provided me with a break from studies and the busyness of university, and are both interests which I take so much pleasure from.

Another extra-curricular activity is Woodland wellbeing sessions run once a week, whereby a group of us go to Meanwood park and carry out activities such as; learning how to create a fire, using this fire to boil water for tea and roast marshmallows, whittling, walking barefoot to relax the mind etc. Additionally, I went skiing for the first time with the Snowriders (Leeds University skiing society) in the December holidays in the French Alps (Les Deux Alps), and will be going to Portugal with Leeds University Surfing society this Easter.

Societies are a brilliant way to fill up time, create new interests and meet new people. The Leeds student union are brilliant at offering new and such well-run societies to further this opportunity!