At the very beginning of your life, when you were just learning how to tie your shoes and how the sun is something the planet orbits around, life was like a puzzle which you were slowly piecing together. As you get older, the puzzle seems more complete and you figure that you know enough about life that you lose the curiosity you had when you were young. You know, the kind which made it hard to fall asleep because you were thinking about how tigers are always stripey or how the sunflowers in your garden grow taller than daisies. There is something precious about the endless questions of a child; no amount of explanations will satisfy the questions you have about how life works.
Although some people stop wondering about these things as they grow up, there are others who still want to ask more questions about how life works. Some of these people, myself included, can be found studying biology. I suppose this is therefore why I find joy in my lectures and fulfilment in laboratory practical’s. I understand how and why something happens, more than I did before.
Memorable lab work
The most memorable day within a laboratory was when I was watching a Xenopus embryo develop. During the practical, I witnessed gastrulation. Now, although I had already seen the process on a screen and within textbooks, the feeling you get when witnessing the earliest stages of life is quite extraordinary. I couldn’t get over the fact that before me there was a bundle of cells organising themselves so that they were able to give rise to a whole organism. How did each cell know which position they should be in? How did the cells communicate with one another? What would happen if some of the cells were removed during the early stages of development?
Field trips and summer schools
During June, I had two fulfilling experiences that I was able to have as a biology student. The first was a coastal and marine biology field trip to the Isle of Cumbrae. The trip exceeded my expectations, as I formed friendships with people on my course whom I hadn’t met before. I also carried out a research project with my partner, Hannah, who is still a lovely friend of mine. This gave me the confidence to do laboratory practical’s in my second year and apply for Year in Industry placements.
The second was a summer school for plant sciences. Even though I didn’t consider a career in plant sciences, meeting leading plant scientists at the summer school changed my perspective. From developmental biology to biochemistry, the summer school showed me how using plants as a model organism is as enlightening as mice and Drosophila. Another thing I took away from the summer school is that if we wish to conserve our beloved elephants and pandas, we must also conserve the plants which provide the habitat for them to survive.
Even though my course interests me endlessly, the people I have met whilst studying at York have had a big impact on my time here. I stayed in Halifax College during my first year. It wasn’t my first choice but I am so happy that I ended up there.
The person from my house who I spent the most time with was, ironically, the person I thought I would get on with the least. He opened my eyes to my perception of beauty. One evening, we went to the opening night of Spark:York and later went to the House of Trembling Madness for cocktails. On another morning, we wandered into town and chose a seemingly lifeless rug for his room, which later transformed the room into a home.
On my course, I am surrounded by supportive friends. Although I don’t go out very often, I have got to know many friends by walking to lectures, going to events in town or even having them over for a home-made dinner.
Why I chose York
I’m currently half way through my degree. Yet I can still remember how overwhelming it was when I was applying to university. There was an overwhelming amount of questions to be asked. How would the biology courses differ? What kind of accommodation would I be living in? Could I find a part time job? After evaluating the different universities, I made my decision based on the way I felt when I was visiting them. The choice I made has meant I have had many wonderful experiences. I am so thankful that I listened to my heart when making the decision to study biology at York.