Georgina Francesconi, Spence Agricultural Scholar 2018

Georgina is eligible for a scholarship because she is from Kent. During her first term of study she introduces herself and offers some advice to future students.

Georgina stepped down as a scholar during her second year of studies.

Having grown up on a mixed arable/cattle farm, agriculture had always been a possibility for my future. When it came to researching what to do after my A-levels I realised agriculture combined all the science I had enjoyed at school with other areas that I knew less about, such as business and management – which I’m really looking forward to studying later in the course.

I chose the University of Nottingham because both the core and optional modules of study interested me, as did the combination of scientific and practical which runs through the course. I also liked how the campus where agriculture is taught – Sutton Bonington – is rural and has easy access to the University Park campus and Nottingham city centre.

The agriculture sector is very broad and there are many different areas I could go into, so at this stage I’m keeping my options open by studying a broad selection of modules. I enjoy both the crop and animal side and I’m hoping that as I progress through the course there may be one particular area that I become more interested in, or a placement that inspires me to take a certain path.

Being a Spence Agricultural Scholar relieves some of the stress of university, in particular worries about finance, as it has helped me to purchase course books and other materials, as well as extras such as joining different societies and trips. I’m also looking forward to developing a closer relationship with the Rochester Bridge Trust and benefitting from their wide range of contacts in the industry.

My advice to someone else considering applying for a scholarship is to go for it: agriculture is such a broad industry that most people don’t realise it stretches beyond ‘just’ farming. It includes everything from business management to machinery, as well as looking into the genetics of both crops and animals. This scholarship is opening up so many more opportunities to find out more about these things and help me decide which area to specialise in.

Georgina Francesconi opens up about the challenges of settling into university life, offers advice on getting involved, and says it’s definitely worth the effort.

Personally, I have never been a very confident or social person, so the thought of starting university was terrifying – going off to live away from the people and places you know while living independently and studying. Fortunately, everyone starting at university is in the same boat and is likely to be equally as terrified as you.

The difference in university study and school will depend upon your course and university choices. The most noticeable change is the increase in amount of independent study that is expected around the taught content. Each person will dedicate different amounts of time to how much they do outside of lectures. It may depend whether they have a particular interest in that topic or if it is something they struggle with, so they want to be able to better understand the subject. It is up to the individual to put in the work required. If at any point you have a question or begin to struggle, there is a support network there to help you at university. This may be either the lecturer, your personal tutor, or the university student services.

Starting university allows you to try so many new activities and meet new people from across the world. This may be from trying a new sport that you never had the opportunity to before, joining a society and meeting people with similar interests to you, or even joining a society just to pick up a new hobby or interest. Throughout the year there are competitive sporting events between the teams and other universities, as well as friendly matches of different sports between the different societies that you can take part in or go along and watch.

Having grown up in a fairly rural area it was an easier transition to the university’s Sutton Bonington campus than it may have to been to another. Although you miss your family, the hardest part is being without any pets you may have. Not being greeted by an over-excited dog demanding attention when you arrive home takes a while to get used to. Luckily at Sutton Bonington you are close to the farm so can pop down and see the baby lambs at the moment, and they are being moved out into the surrounding fields as spring approaches.

Starting university is hard, and takes a while to settle into a routine away from home. Everyone always says that it is important to have a good social/work life balance, and this is true. Although it is important to stay on top of work and make sure assignments are completed before deadlines, it is also important to make sure you enjoy your university time. You are exposed to so many new opportunities and people that throughout the year you are still meeting new people and discovering new activities that you can do at university.

Even though I started out terrified, in the end choosing to go to university is the best decision I have ever made.