So it’s 7.30am and my alarm has roused me from sleep, but I’m an optimist so I reset it for 8.15am and drift back off. 8.15am comes around far too soon and it’s a mad dash to shower, dress, grab food I packed the night before (hopefully), and leg it to my 9am lab. Making it with three minutes to spare, I say a quick hello to my lab partner before the briefing and I plonk myself down and promise myself that I will get up at 7.30am tomorrow.
Labs are usually three hours long and content varies from building circuits on breadboards to testing synthesised digital circuits. The lab script is always provided in advance, and I’d always advise reading these beforehand. You want to maximise the amount of time you spend on the labs with the demonstrators available. In all our labs, we have PhD students called ‘demonstrators’. If you get stuck, they’re around to answer any questions you have and point you in the right direction. I can’t deny I get stuck a lot but I am not afraid to ask for help, and you shouldn’t be either. There will also be an academic present as the ‘lab leader’, available in just the same way as the demonstrators – utilise this.
Three hours may sound like a drag, but you are welcomed (and often encouraged) to take regular breaks to ensure peak performance. My lab partner and I will often head for a cuppa about halfway through, maybe a little earlier if one of us hasn’t eaten. We walk down the stairs and straight for James College Costa. We’re met with friendly smiles from the staff who see us every day, grab a tea, and have a sit-down. Sometimes we plan our next move in the lab, sometimes we just have a good ol’ chit-chat, then back up to the labs.
I personally find hardware labs significantly challenging. I love the software side of the course, but, for me, hardware just takes that extra graft for it to click. After a lab, I like to take my lunch hour. I believe stepping away from the course after a particularly challenging study period is the best way to reset.
My lab partner and I are good friends outside the course and usually both bring our lunch in. We’ll head to James Lodge to heat our food, meet his boyfriend and go chill in the Roger Kirk Centre (the cafeteria for James College) until our next lecture.
If we’ve had a lab in the morning, it’ll often be lectures in the afternoon (this can be reversed, or both be labs, or both be lectures too). As an Electronic Engineering student, I do have lots of lectures. However, I enjoy attending them and interacting face-to-face with my lecturers and peers. We also have workshops where we can complete practise questions, with demonstrators and the workshop leader on hand if we get stuck. Workshops are a great opportunity to get help in smaller class sizes (supposedly half the cohort, but this is often not the case), and it’s always best to attend them with questions at the ready.
If lectures have finished around 3pm/4pm, I will often stay another couple of hours for private study. I work better on campus, and with plenty of contact hours, the Electronic Engineering building feels like a second home. Preferring to work alone with some lo-fi sounds through my headphones, I often head to the computer labs on the first floor, or head to the portacabins opposite the Roger Kirk Centre and plug in.
Between 5pm and 6pm, I’m ready to head home (especially when it’s dark in the winter), and I walk home – usually very hungry! I live in a student house with four other people and I’m lucky to live with such great individuals. I didn’t know three of them particularly well when we signed for the house, but over the past few months we’ve grown quite close and we have a happy house dynamic. There’s usually at least person milling around downstairs, so we often catch-up about our days and our plans for the next day or so.
In my spare time, I’m the Department Rep for Electronic Engineering. I also offer some technical support to WILD magazine (an independent Sustainability magazine run by students) and previously, I was the Treasurer for the University of York Women’s Rugby Club. This means my evenings can be taken up with meetings (and previously rugby training). I also attend an adult orchestra outside of uni, walk a dog through Borrow My Doggy, and I will be launching an EcoBricks campaign very soon. Despite all this, during the week I try to relax in the evenings with an early night, a cuppa, and a Netflix series.
On the other hand, I do enjoy going out, and you’ll regularly find me at bassline and drum and bass events. If it’s a Friday or Saturday, I’ll wolf down my tea, then catch up with my housemates as they help me get ready, before heading out with my pals to boogie until the early hours of the morn.
If you’re considering studying at York, I would highly recommend it. This is just my typical day, but there are so many opportunities and variety you’ll always find something to do. If the Department of Electronic Engineering is on your radar, the staff are friendly and helpful, and if you put yourself out there you’ll feel like part of the family. I honestly can’t praise the Department enough regarding the support they provide me, and my university experience is one I will never forget.