I know that there are a huge number of decisions that have to be made in the build-up to going to university – which one to pick, choosing the course, getting supplies etc – but I can tell you now one thing you don’t need to stress about it choosing accommodation if you’re studying Biosciences – your schedule is so full you barely spend any time in there anyway (don’t worry, you’re busy doing more fun things out of your room)! I’m going to tell you a little about my week, hoping to prove to you that the life of a Biochemist is not only the best but the most interesting student life on campus.
Every other Monday, we have 9:00-4:30 lab sessions in the Chemistry teaching labs (yes that means a three-day weekend every other week). It’s in these sessions you’ll go from learning basic lab techniques like setting up a condensation, to performing your own IR analyses – each lab day brings something different. Only the other day, I was extracting and concentrating capsaicin, the chemical in chillies that makes them spicy (gloves and goggles being very important in this one!). It may sound exhausting, but once you’ve got into the laboratory and you’re synthesising chemicals you’ve only ever learnt about in a textbook before, the day absolutely flies by and you’ll be itching to get back in those labs in a fortnight’s time.
After my labs have finished, I make some dinner and make my way to one of the campus bars for a college pool match – only one example of the countless competitive and fun inter-college sports that take place all the time. Feeling that rivalry against my competitors and the team spirit from my own team is a great way to wind down after a long day of concentrating!
Tuesdays, like Thursdays and Fridays, tend to be dedicated to lectures. This is where the real fun starts – you get to learn in great depth a huge range of topics! I’ve only been here a term and a half, and already I could go on for hours about metabolism, enzymes, organic chemistry, microbiology and even a bit of quantum mechanics! This is where the course really comes into its own in my point of view – our cohort at York is relatively small compared to some other subjects, at only about 50 or 60 per year group. This means I can go into a lecture, know everyone there, and be thrilled and amazed by the subject matter with a group of like-minded people all in the space of an hour. Of course, even if that specific lecture isn’t as interesting as others, I’ve got lunch to look forward to (I couldn’t recommend the nachos at Courtyard Bar more highly). On one of these days, I’ll probably be back for dinner by 5 or 6 and then, depending on the time I need to be up the next day, will go for a night out in York city.
Wednesdays are the truly fun days of the week, and the best way to get over that midweek hump and power through! It’s a university requirement that all academic activities must finish by early afternoon, leaving the rest of the day free for co-curricular activities. Personally, I have college pool training until 6 and University handball practice from 8 until 10 – but there is so much more you can do! Societies range from table tennis team to the Boris Johnson Appreciation Society. Biochemistry is a degree with a lot of contact hours, so these free Wednesdays come as a nice change, whether you’re engaging in sport, societies, catching up on work or simply lounging around watching TV. When it comes to Wednesday nights, this is when sport socials happen. If you’ve never been in a club packed with all sorts of people dressed in all sorts of themes and doing all sorts of challenges, then are in for a treat – social nights are the clubbing highlight of the week and nothing beats going out with your teammates to treat those aching bones and sore minds!
And finally, after the Thursday and Friday lectures (interesting as always) the weekends – these tend to be relaxed on campus, with people either catching up on work or catching up on sleep. Don’t take this as there being nothing to do though – the student union puts on club nights on Sundays, and a whole host of societies take the weekend as an opportunity to hold events for the student population. If you’re ever bored during a weekend, all you need to do is hunt for a society and without a doubt you’ll find something to take up your time – I can personally recommend the sketch shows by the Comedy Society, they had me in stitches for an entire evening!
When applying for a degree, it’s hard to remember that there are other parts of your university life outside of just learning. Sure, the course demands a lot of time, but this simply makes you value the free time you have even more. If anything, the subject pushes you to make the most out of your university life in sports, societies, socials and much more. The only way to really sum up university life is by saying that there is never, and I mean never, a dull moment on campus.