Life in Dundee

Possibly my biggest worry before applying to medicine was whether I would be able to have a life outside of medicine and I’m glad to report that my social skills have allowed me to gain some pals over the last few years, although the might disown me once they find out that I’m writing my own blog, in which case, this whole post would seem a bit contradictory. Its a risk I’m willing to take. Anyway, I almost always asked questions about this when I went to uni open days etc. etc. and now, as a student, having been a tour guide on a couple of open days, I’ve been asked this question too, so it clearly wasn’t just me who was worried about this!

Obviously, things vary between individuals and everybody has their own ideas of what a social life consists of – some think of it as being a member of clubs and societies, some people think of it as having dinners with friends, others like to go out on the lash every night of the week.

It’s really all about getting the balance. Coming up to exams, its easy to lock yourself in your 5 square metre bedroom and study like nuts to try and pass your exams, but really, its best to study steadily throughout the year. Maybe everyday when you come home from uni at around 5, you do 2-3 hours work, and then for the rest of the night, do whatever you want, whether it’s go and play pool in the union or get your friends round for a game of CoD or, if you’re a girl, braid each other’s hair (I’m still not entirely sure what girls to at slumber parties). But, you catch my drift.

I suppose I should talk about nights out as well. If you’re a parent, you should probably look away now! Nah, only joking, you should probably read on, because in my opinion, nights out are one of the most important things about uni life and IMO should be almost mandatory!

Your first experiences of uni will be in freshers week, and heading out to the union is probably the best way of meeting new people and making friends. I met 3 of my closest friends at the moment in freshers week in the pub. The stories are somewhat hazy, but they definitely happened. Also, medical students in almost every uni have a society that organises big nights out for the whole of the medical school. These are usually the best nights of the year and result in stories and in-jokes that you’ll talk about for years to come.

Also, as doctors, you’re kind of expected to be able to deal with members of the public, and if you ever work in A&E (which you almost certainly will at somepoint!), you’ll be expected to deal with drunk and disorderly members of the public, so, where better to get some safe practice with plenty of bouncers to protect you if things go pear shaped than in your local union! I’m not implying you should get into bar fights with people, but I think I’d be a bit taken aback at a friday night shift in A&E if I hadn’t been on at least a few walks home at 3am in Dundee.

Plus, it’s extremely healthy to get away from medicine. It can be a bit all-consuming at times, but, if you take an hour or so’s break to go an catch up with your mates and then get back to studying on the lead up to exams, it can make you feel a bit more humant than you might otherwise have felt!

So, as I say, some people study hard, some people hardly study, but its important to notice if you’re swaying one way or the other and try to stop it. If you’re worried about having a social life when studying medicine, don’t. I can assure you, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to have a social life. In sports clubs especially, I’ve noticed it tends to be mostly medical students that make up the majority of the teams.

The Union
With freshers week on the horizon, I thought I would take you on a virtual tour of the University of Dundee’s Student’s Union.

As far as I know, Dundee is home to the best Union in Scotland. I’m not just saying that because I’m from Dundee either. In 2009, Aberdeen Uni’s union closed cause it ran outta cash, and I’ve heard that not many people bother to go the Union in Glasgow since there’s hundreds of better-established clubs to head out to.

However, after a huge cash-injection, the union at Dundee is really all you could ever want from a union. 5 floors big, there’s plenty of areas to stumble around as you enjoy that ever so tasty £1.50 pint of Tennants you just treated yourself too.

We’ll start from the entrance.

As you walk from halls to the union, you’re greeted by areas of various areas of grass, often used for games of “jumpers for goalposts” football, ultimate frisbee, st. patricks day boozing and sun lounging between exams. This area also plays host to outdoor parts of the Graduation ball – something which may feel a long time away for some of you, but it’ll be there sooner than you might think, coming from experience! The grad ball is a huge event – 6pm until 6am party filled with artists, discos, rides and champagne breakfast! I went for the first time this year and saw Teds band from scrubs play, who were amazing, rode dodgems til 4am and then had a bacon roll and a glass of fizz before heading home! Great night.

Outside, there’s also the Union shop – here you can buy all sorts of stationary for studying, plus some groceries or booze and also some Dundee Hoodies etc. etc. The booze is quite expensive, but it saves you having to go very far at the 10pm rush to get alcohol before the shops can’t sell it anymore!

When you go into the union, you are on floor 2. Crazy, right? On your right as you go in is a swimming pool (“A swimming pool on the second floor?” I hear you ask. Yeah, I know!) It’s 20m long and 4 lanes wide (i.e. not very big) but this is where the water polo and swim team train as well as some other clubs. You can get a swim pass for the year which turns out pretty cheap – or it’s a fiver per person if you don’t get a membership. There’s also a sauna there which is quite nice.

Once you’ve passed the viewing window in the swimming pool, you can head downstairs to Mono. Mono is the main club of the union. It’s ironic, because it’s basically telling you which disease you’re likely to catch if you kiss too many people in there (being a student place and all that), but still, it’s a pretty good place to go out. The bouncers are pretty decent and only students from Uni of Dundee or Abertay can get in, making it probably the safest place to go in Dundee. In 1st year, this was the place we went to most of the time as some young friends were only 17 at the time, but were guaranteed to get in because they were students.

So, that was the 1st floor, now we’ll go up 2 floors to floor 3 – the liar. This is the kind of ‘pub’ bit of the union is, complete with big TVs for sports, lots of comfy seats for lounging. Some of the art work is pretty cool too, with the cover of Trainspotting going across one of the walls.

Up another set of stairs takes you to Air bar, a wee food place and the arcade. Air is the unions cocktail bar and often hosts karaoke nights, open mic nights and is also home to lots of comfy seats etc. There’s quite a choice of cocktails and shots to do here. I can say that some of the shots are pretty good fun, but I wouldn’t recommend them as your first drink, that’s for sure! The food place is handy here for a quick break from dancing. The arcade is HUGE. Literally about 30 pool tables, a jukebox and about 15 different arcade games mean that there’s always soemthing to do. Once you’ve got your food, you can play 50p for a game of pool while you eat it, then when you’re done, head down to mono again for the last few songs of the night. All in one place! Not bad.

Floor 5 is another club, but is more of a gig venue I would say. A band called Frightened Rabbit played here during my first freshers week (who I now love) and another wee band called The View played here once a while ago too! I haven’t spent much time here, but it’s a bit smaller than Mono and tends to play a bit more alternative music for those of you who are into that kind of thing.


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