Written by Lara Barusso
BA (Hons) Computer Animation Art and Design
Hey, I’m Lara and I’m back again to talk about support at BU, (if you haven’t read my first blog on this subject check it out here). This time, I would like to look at a different type of support BU offers you in your first year, and how to support your fellow students during your second year. So let me take you through my PAL journey!
When I first started uni, I remember having this strange hour lesson weekly called PAL, I was very unsure of what it was. When I attended my first session I discovered that PAL means Peer Assisted Learning, which is a scheme to help first-year students to go through the year successfully with the help from a second-year student, in the same course. During the weekly sessions, the PAL leader facilitates the session, with other people from your course, and it’s a great way of asking questions and getting help in areas you are struggling with. The PAL leaders also create fun games and quizzes to encourage discussion.
I really liked those sessions, they were run by a very talented girl in the year above, it’s was always a great place for discussion, a space to share our work and discuss ideas between us. It was also useful to learn tips and tricks to survive during the year, I remember once we had to write a story for our assignment and we felt a bit stuck, our PAL leader organised a session on how to encourage creativity, organising activities to help us find the inspiration we needed. It was such a good time! These sessions have taught me so much, helped me make friends, connect with the years above and gave me valuable lessons to make sure I enjoyed my first years as much as possible.
So, guys, when you get this session in your timetable, go and make the best of it! This is a great opportunity and, trust me, its so worth it!
Be a PAL leader
I enjoyed so much the PAL sessions that at the end of the first year when I received an email to apply to become a PAL leader myself, I immediately did. I was chosen, together with other 2 classmates, and we attended a days training that helped us to learn how to facilitate rather than teach. The training was very interesting, and the skills I learnt I’m sure will be very useful for the future.
Once we got our amazing green jumper we were so excited to do our first session! Everyone of us had different groups of students, I was very nervous for mine, but it ended up being a great experience, I gained a lot of self-confidence during the year and meet many first-year students. It was a fantastic feeling being able to help fellow students, hoping to give my group the same motivation and passion my former PAL did for me!
Being a PAL leader is also very great addition to your CV, it helped me develop leadership skills which were very useful for my third year, I encourage anyone to try their best to become one!
Becoming a Peer Support Leader
During my final year at BU, I recognised the value of being a PAL Leader, I applied and became a Peer Support Leader. A PSL is a 3rd-year student whose job is to supervise PAL sessions and help fellow PALs to have their best experience. Giving them help and support, as well as providing useful feedback to deliver the sessions at their best!
I did enjoy my time as a PAL leader and fresh from the experience with the things I learned I felt helping new PALs would be the most obvious thing to do!
This role has helped me to push my communication and organisation skills even further. I never believed I could be doing such a thing when I started at uni, but now I’m extremely happy with where this journey have taken me and the valuable lessons I have learnt along the way!
PS: I should mention, at the end of the year you receive a certificate and you can win awards and get to attend a great ceremony with the Vice Chancellor. It was great to have the university recognise our hard work.