Studying Chemistry@York: Halfway

I should probably start with telling you a little about who I am. I’m a third year studying Chemistry at York and thoroughly loving it. I don’t really know how I can be a third year since it seems I only started a few weeks ago as a fresher having no clue how to survive on my own and what felt like a thousand years away from my parents and two younger brothers.

When I first applied for Chemistry, I was asked up for an interview, and considering I lived in Somerset, I was gutted that I had to travel a total of 520 miles on the train. I stayed overnight at a bed and breakfast and walked up Heslington Road in the morning to get to the uni. As soon as I got to the top of the hill and was looking out over campus, I knew I would be happy here. When I actually got into the interview and was told I already had a place and it was all just a formality, I was thrilled. I spoke to academic members of staff whilst I was there and they were all lovely! All of them are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Now I’m here, their attitudes and personalities haven’t changed one bit.

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Me and my friends in the lab during our first year

In terms of the work load; it increases progressively from first year to third. At the moment, I am working on some tutorial work for a lecture course and a computational based lab report.  Over the course of this term, I have written two 4500 word lab reports with another due in in Week 10, been to 72 lectures and had 48 cumulative hours in labs.  My favourite part of this term was something completely unrelated: something called Integrated Spectroscopy, fondly known as IntSpec. This is a non-taught section of the Scientific Literacy module where all MChem students have individually been given a bunch of spectra, including hydrogen and carbon NMR, IR and Mass Spectrometry and have to find what your compound is from this information. I really liked this because it was like a really long Sudoku puzzle: super satisfying when you figured out what you had. The picture here is of my crew and I at the end of an analytical lab-based group project called Integrated Chemistry Practical (ICP) which has its roots in real life – the chemistry of a night out. The department definitely has a sense of humour.

I’ll tell the truth; Chemistry is intensive, but this isn’t to say I don’t have any free time! Just this past week, I finally managed to do something I’ve been meaning to for ages – have a meal at Evil Eye, a famous cocktail and food bar in the centre of York. I had the Beef Rendang, a delicious curry from Malaysia made with melt-in-the-mouth beef and comes with a side of tasty sweet Thai rice. I also ended up having one of the alcoholic hot chocolates at 1 pm (shhhh!) which was equally as delicious.

IMAG3141Black forest hot chocolate – shot of vodka, chambord and a bit of creme de cacao mixed with copious amounts of cream and chocolate.

I also found something I love more than anything at uni here – powerlifting. This is what makes up the bulk of my time. It is a class of weightlifting involving the squat, bench and deadlift. I actually started as a coping mechanism to help me deal with something totally personal that happened at the end of my first year. I found I was actually pretty good at it and eventually competed four months later and took four records in Yorkshire and the North East! Nobody could be more proud of me than my dad, who can sympathise with my love for iron as he used to lift weights too, but he was a bodybuilder. I have now been elected as Vice President of Barbell Club, a sports club here at the University of York, that means I can compete for free and train with my friends.

The last thing I have had to consider this term is what I’m doing in my fourth and final year at York – do I:

a) stay in York and do a research project
b) go out to industry and do a project with a company with the hopes of a job offer at the end
c) go abroad and do a project with another university

For me particularly, this choice has been very hard. There are pros and cons to each situation and to be completely honest, I still haven’t decided which is the best option for me. I applied to both industry and abroad options – at this point, I have already been rejected outright by three companies out of my eight options (hey ho), but I have been offered a place abroad, in Aachen, Germany! Thankfully, the way the department is run means everything is kept very open and flexible.

York is now my home away from home and has been since first year. I hope if you choose to come, you’ll love it just as much as I do.

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Elspeth

Third year chemist at the University of York originally from Taunton, Somerset. Keen powerlifter. Looking forwards to my fourth year doing my MChem. I am a huge fan of really obscure teas and I love sitting in cafes and watching the world go round. I also really love cooking and consuming vast quantities of food.

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