Hi, I’m Abigail! I’m on the Biology/Chemistry/Physics Specialisation pathway of Natural Sciences. Currently, I’m in my third year, and I’ve chosen to specialise in Physics. Today, I want to chat to share with you my favourite things about being a Natural Sciences student!
Experiencing different departments
This year, nearly all of my teaching (lectures, seminars and lab practicals) is based in the Physics and Engineering building, which is a change from previous years. Most Natural Sciences students find themselves spread across campus, working in many different departments. This means we get to explore lots of different study spaces! I’m on campus from 9am until 5pm most days during the week, so I often like to take lunch with me to eat in the Natural Sciences learning studio with friends from my course.
Natural Sciences timetables are very busy, so time management skills were something I had to develop quickly. I found that talking regularly to other students helped me feel less alone when it came to deadlines, or understanding course content. We regularly sit together in the Natural Sciences learning studio and work through lecture content or seminar problems. I find lecturers are usually really keen to discuss their courses, so if I’m properly stuck I go to them directly.
Most weeks, I spend a full day in labs. Here, I’ve been able to use exciting new equipment, learn how to keep a virtual lab notebook, and develop skills to create formal reports based on the science we’re exploring. Our lab work is mostly focused on problem-solving with our lab partner; this helps us develop confidence in our practical understanding of the science we’ve covered in lectures. However, we do get plenty of support from demonstrators (Master’s and PhD students who help out with labs) when we need it.
Natural Sciences hour
Every Thursday, we have a Natural Sciences hour. These are a lot of fun because they allow us to meet other students from different year groups and pathways. These hours provide loads of different opportunities such as; learning about new and exciting areas of science via lectures from experts, enhancing our employability and engaging in skills sessions. Sometimes, we just relax, play games, and socialise – we even get free pizza which is always a plus!
Friendships and accommodation
The School of Natural Sciences is home to a small but close-knit, supportive community. We often form friendships that extend outside our academic work – in fact, a lot of NatSci students chose to live together off-campus in second and third year. Personally, I live with housemates from my first year on-campus accommodation because we all got on really well. This was pretty lucky, especially since we spent a lot of time together during covid lockdowns!
It’s not all just studying!
Every week I try to attend a pub quiz in town with my housemates, although sometimes assessments and coursework take priority. I spend most weekends doing university work and hanging out with other friends I made during freshers week and at various society run events. I’ve found it’s as easy to overwork as much as it is to underwork at university. So for me, committing to activities outside of my studies has been crucial in maintaining a work-life balance.