I grew up in North Devon and attended the University of York where I studied a degree in Chemistry, the Atmosphere, and the Environment. I started my degree in September 2019 and graduated in June 2022.
At the beginning of my A Levels I really struggled and was getting E’s regularly in Chemistry and Maths. I persevered and worked harder, and my efforts paid off when I got an A in Chemistry after the 2 years. I found Maths more challenging, and I was lucky enough to get a tutor and through their support and loads of practice I managed to go from an E to a B. My take home message is don’t give up and work hard because it does pay off in the end.
I’d never had a big passion for any subject, and was considering a variety of subjects, but I found in Yr. 13 that I really enjoyed my Chemistry A Level and so I decided to study it.
Deciding where to go
I went to a few open days at different universities and was considering between Bath and York as they were both very pretty cities that didn’t seem too big, but with enough going on. This was an important factor for me having come from a very rural area. I decided to go to the University of York in the end as I was really impressed at the open day with the chemistry department and fell in love with the city. I was really excited to live away from home, as I was quite independent at the time, and to have the chance to explore a new city. The only downside to being so far away was the long expensive train ride home which meant I went home less than some students, but this wasn’t too big of an issue as I really enjoyed living in York.
University of York
The University of York is a campus university and is split between 2 sites within easy distance to each other. I really enjoyed the community feel of a campus university and getting to live on campus with the rest of the first years was really sociable. Also, as I’m not a morning person, I loved that I could leave for lectures and labs 5 mins before they started. There was also a regular bus route into the city which took around 10 minutes, which made getting into the city really easy.
The University of York has a college system, and this gave the feeling of belonging, which I really valued. There were loads of places to study and socialise, either in the library or little rooms dotted through campus. There were also junior common rooms for each of the colleges and regular events ran by each college.
Timetables were emailed to us near end of the summer holidays, which made me feel more prepared, and were well thought-out in my first year. Due to COVID-19 I experienced a mix of online and in-person teaching, and the university was clear in explaining changes to the timetables throughout my last 2 years in response to the ongoing pandemic.
We had a fresher’s week which was great fun with loads of different activities running. Each flat was assigned 2 STYCs (second- or third-year contact), who helped us carry all our belongings into our rooms, helped settle us in and came with us to all the fresher events and looked out for us. This made me feel really at ease and meant we had support in finding rooms or in navigating the city.
I chose quite cheap accommodation so went for self-catered and shared bathroom. I was a bit apprehensive about the shared bathrooms, but they got cleaned way more than ensuites and they actually had better showers. I chose self-catering as it gave me more flexibility about when and what to cook. I made my room feel at home by putting up loads of photos and it was really nice to add some university ones as the terms went on.
The chemistry course was split into different teaching colleges which made socialising on the course really easy. We had workshops and tutorials within our teaching college house and were assigned a tutor, with whom I had regular meetings and was always easy to contact via email. We discussed assessment results with them, and you could also go to them with any issues.
Getting a job
During my time at university, I had a part-time job at Costa which I worked at weekends. I found this easy to manage around my studies as I was strict with myself about only working 1 day a week. I really valued having a job as not only did I have extra money, it also gave me a community outside university. I was lucky enough to be able to transfer between two different branches of Costa depending on my timetable, which helped me grow in confidence and I always felt at home no matter which store I worked in.
I would definitely make sure to do your research and consider what factors are important to you when considering your course and which university you’d prefer go to. I would really recommend university or higher education to everyone because of the student experience and being able to meet new people really easily. If you have any questions about higher education or university please contact us for information!