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1st Year Experiences: Biochemistry (Jerry Yu)

In this series, we've got students from each course to share their experience of first year at Warwick Life Sciences!

Ello, My name is Jerry and I'm a first year Biochemistry student at Warwick. I really enjoyed my first year and I'm here to share my experiences with you. As an international student from Hong Kong, I always wanted to study in the UK. I choose to study in Warwick as I was attracted by the course especially the second year module of Neuroscience, but also by the wide variety of societies and sports clubs available. However, I'll be honest. An important reason was that Warwick had a lower entry requirement for my pre-university course (IB) compared to other universities which were around the same ranking in Bioscience. It still fascinates me that Warwick is so highly ranked in STEM fields, but is relatively new compared to other universities which have existed for much longer. In summary, Warwick was ranked high enough that I could please my Asian parents without having to study too hard. Moreover, Warwick has a great social aspect which I didn't tell them about. These are the two reasons why I decided to come to Warwick.

Onto my first year experience.

As you may have noticed from my introduction, I'm far from a role model university student. I'm lazy and I would rather have fun. However after welcome week, I had gotten used to living on my own and the new university environment which made me excited to start learning. At the start I was determined to attend every lecture and workshop. I was intent on staying ahead of everything course related. But I'm sure all of you reading this know what happened. At the start I actually stayed ahead and attended every lecture and workshop. However as the workload got larger through the year, my motivation dropped and I got increasingly lazy. It was fun to work hard when I was motivated as I enjoy learning. The content was fascinating and went deeper into each topic than what I had learnt before university. The issue was that I lacked motivation as I soon as learnt that I was exceptionally good at cramming before tests and completing work last minute. Why would I bother spending more time studying or completing work, if I can still get a first (the highest grade) by doing everything last minute. The reason why I should bother is because it helps build better groundwork for working in the real world, but also allows me to consolidate my knowledge for the coming years. In short, I was fine academically during first year, however I don't recommend doing the same even though I got a first at the end. For those reading this and are doing biochemistry, you'll understand what I mean by workload when you start (the chemistry module (both labs and lectures) is not a failing condition for first year it only impacts your self esteem, you'll get why I said this when you start). For those interested in academic opportunities to build your CV, there are plenty available which the SLS will update you on. For example URSS and IGEM, but also many more. However most of the ones in the careers update email are usually for second year and higher. Recently in quarantine I was fortunate enough to be part of a cell tracking project though it was cut short by the virus.

My general advice for social:

After the long rant about academics, I'm sure you want to hear about what I get up to in my free time. During welcome week, there were a lot of events from both sports clubs and societies, all of which are free to attend. As an introvert, I was anxious to go to any event. However when I did pick up the courage to go to an event, I couldn't stop going to many more. Everyone in university was friendly and the general vibe was that people wanted to meet new people. This energy was contagious and soon I was going to society events frequently and was enjoying the free trial sessions from sports clubs. I ain't a party person and I'm allergic to alcohol, but I went on a bar crawl, went clubbing and tried circling. After the experience I am sure that those events aren't for me, but I would be willing to go again if I am with the right company. After welcome week I decided to stick to society events as a broke international student because the joining fee for sports is really expensive (alcohol racks up expenses too). I really enjoyed going to Nintendo Society and Mafia Society. I also occasionally joined sessions and campaigns from Table top roleplaying society. I went to a few BioSoc Socials and Outreach sessions. For those of you Hong Kong peeps reading this, Canto Society is a good way to meet others from Hong Kong and I enjoyed playing mah-jong with them. It would be an understatement to say that I enjoyed going to society events. To the point where I eventually decided to create my own society with a bunch of friends I had just met, but also became a BioSoc exec. I created Minecraft society (the first photo on this post) and for our first year we have 34 official members on our SU page, 178 people on our Facebook group and 266 people on our Discord channel. Aside from societies, I enjoyed cooking and baking with my friends at 1 am. Brownies at 1 am hits a different spot in my soul than Brownies at any other time. For those who enjoy cooking, make sure you leave enough time to meal prep. I learnt that cooking in large portions is a lot easier as you can store portions for later and reheat them. For those who don't know how to cook, there are a lot of people in the same boat so don't worry. You will learn yourself or be taught how to cook or even rely on someone who knows how to cook. I also enjoyed volunteering. In summary there are a lot of opportunities available, all you got to do is to start doing. You'll find what you enjoy if you go and there isn't any reason not to go.

Of course the food I cook isn't picture perfect all the time, but I couldn't help myself. For those wondering I everything from scratch which includes noodles. All of these photos were picked to sum up my average social time outside of societies. I don't really take photos other than food pics so I don't have any during society events.

I've scattered some tips and tricks throughout this post. However, for those who've skimmed through the whole thing, the most important advice I can give you is to enjoy yourself. Make sure you take care of yourself both mentally and physically. However it is also perfectly fine to be stressed and feel distraught. I'm sure that you'll find what you enjoy and how you like to study. Whether you choose to hang out with friends or study for the test tomorrow, I'm sure you'll come out fine either way. University is all about finding a balance between academics and social life and I think I found my balance.


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