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This is a guest blog written by Abi Jones, a mature student currently in her first year of MA Social Work.

I am in the first few weeks of my first 70-day placement at We Are With You (Drug and Alcohol Services) and I am finding that there is lots of opportunity for learning, both within the service and self-managed research. My practice educator has been really helpful in guiding me through the early stages of my placement and has given guidance to help me gain the best experience possible from my placement. I have found that having clear expectations for what I want to learn about is very important, as I am able to discuss this and gather information to support my learning.Abi Jones is smiling at the camera wearing a necklace and a black and white polka dot top

I am new to university and did not know what to expect when I first started at BU. I was able to enrol on the course without an undergraduate degree due to the level of professional experience I had as I held registration with CQC (Care Quality Commission) and Ofsted. The first highlight to mention is that the staff at BU have been fantastic. The information that is available on Brightspace has been really good and I have found that the reading list was mostly manageable. The other highlight has been my fellow students, as we have bonded and supported each other with assignments and have studied together. Without a doubt, it has been a great support to be able to discuss case studies and revise together.

A laptop sits on a table with a social work assignments handbook and a promoting equality book in front of itMy main challenge during my time at university has been not coming from an academic background, so it has been a real learning curve getting to grips with how to write assignments and use BU Harvard Referencing. Also, I was struggling with remembering details for a quiz, so I created an online quiz to support my learning and a measurable outcome so that I could check my skills. I shared this with the other students so that we could all have an alternative (and fun) method to learn the information.

Learning about my ‘self’ in developing professional relationships has been fascinating as I have learned more about how I work, how others may work, how to then work together and how to communicate more effectively. This will have a big impact on my future practice as I will be able to better understand others and not hold them to my personal standards.

I have really enjoyed learning about psychosocial perspectives, and I am keen to continue learning about interventions and to continue developing skills which I can utilise in practice. I hope to find a way that I can make a difference to service users and advocate for them. Abi Jones is smiling with a BU campus building behind her and she is wearing sunglasses and a black and white polka dot top

I would advise others thinking of joining the course to make friends with a diverse range of people, as this will be really helpful as you study. I would also say to make the most of your personal tutor, as they will really help you to form assignments and guide you through your course. Be open with your lecturers, in my experience, they will always make time to answer questions as needed.

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