My first year at Newcastle University exceeded all my expectations. Having said that, I didn’t get off to the best start. A rejection from my first choice university dampened my spirits and almost put me off altogether, but with enough persuasion from teachers and family I decided to go anyway.
I chose to study Biology as it was the subject I enjoyed the most at school and, despite being unsure of a career path, I was happy with my decision and could see myself in a biology-based career. Not only does this course keep my options open in terms of career prospects, but as such a broad subject it covers many aspects of biology as well as offering the opportunity to specialise in a particular area after first year.
Lectures were a comfortable transition from A-levels. Despite the obvious differences in teaching style, I found the content was not significantly harder than A-Levels. Obviously this might differ between courses, but having spoken to other people on my course I found that we seem to share the same opinion. I was expecting the same jump in difficulty as observed between GCSEs and A-Levels, but to my (pleasant) surprise the increase in difficulty was very gradual, so no shock to the system there.
Lecture theatres were not the only new learning environment I was exposed to – as part of my degree, we have 3 hour laboratory practicals too. I found these really interesting and a great way to get some hands-on experience in scientific techniques, whilst applying what we had learned in lectures to real-life situations.
I formed a close friendship with my flat mates pretty much instantly, probably because we were all in the same boat. Living together allowed us to bond and get to know each other so quickly that within days, if not hours, it felt like we had known each other forever. During the induction week to my course I met more new people and soon formed a tight-knit friendship group with a handful of girls. Making friends definitely gave me a lot more confidence and reassured me that there are hundreds of other people going through the exact same thing as me.
My advice to anyone starting university soon would be not to worry too much. Everything will run its course and turn out fine in the end, so don’t be disheartened by bumps in the road or anxieties that something could go wrong. Also, broaden your horizons – you will encounter such a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life at uni, so use the opportunity to speak to anyone and everyone in the early stages. You could be surprised at the unique and special friendships you form.