Rachel’s First Year Blog


This post may be slightly more subdued than my previous two… because the dreaded January exams here!! AHH! Understandably, I am currently rather stressed and revision hibernating for the five exams I’ve got to take.

The exams are in a really different format than any I’ve done before, given that they’re multiple choice based. This may sound easy, but with the negative marking, sneaky “select the INCORRECT answer” statements, and even sneakier answers-that-all-sound-plausible-apart-from-one-detail; it’s going to be hard! But, it helps that all the lectures are podcast, so you can look back and really take in what the lecturers are saying. I’ve got exams in ‘Molecular Biology’, ‘Body Systems’, ‘Biodiversity’, Labs, and ‘Genes, Evolution and Development’.  I’m actually enjoying revising some of them, especially Biodiversity! We learn about how plants and animals evolved from the origins of life on earth, and because each lecture involves many a David Attenborough clip, I like to convince myself that sitting and watching his documentaries all day is ‘revision.’ I’m not looking forward to memorizing different types of mosses though… who knew there were so many? Or that they were so complicated?!? HELP.


My Biodiversity notes

During the last few weekends of the semester I tried to do some revision… Instead, I cooked a flat Christmas dinner, went for a goodbye Nando’s with a few of the rock climbers, and had an eventful weekend in which me and my flatmate proved we were the coolest first year students around… by a) deciding to build a fort to watch films in and b) cancelling a night out because of… effort and pyjamas, what else?! We then attempted to make cocktails, which resulted in piggyback races and pillow slides down the hall. It was so fun to be together for the last few days but I really needed to get down to some serious revision. So, I went home and actually stayed up in Newcastle until the weekend before my first exam. It was lovely to be back for Christmas to spend time with the family and catch up on gossip with the girls, but I also find I’m more productive at home. And of course, there is the small but very important matter of FREE FOOD at home!!

Normally my revision technique is the one that all teachers tell you not to do: I love to simply sit for hours looking at a textbook to memorize it. At university however, I mostly focused on writing up my notes using various colours and highlighters, and then rewriting various sections again and again. I am also a late worker, and can feel many a late stint coming on, given that I need 60% in my exams to stay on my Industrial placement course. I feel okay-ish about Body Systems as it looks to be mostly fact based… but I’m a bit more nervous for Molecular Biology! It’s fascinating, but when you discover there are a million different cellular molecules such as SL1, interferon-gamma, cAMP, UBF, and TFIID (made up of TAFs and TBP), it makes revision a little more difficult.

I’m greatly looking forward to after exams though… because I’m going on a weekend trip to Scotland to learn how to ice climb!! Although the trip is over the weekend of the second infamous Pangaea festival (the theme this time is Retro Gaming), I felt like this was an opportunity not to be missed, especially as it will allow me to get to know a few more members of the Mountaineering Society. I’m also very excited about the trip, because a few pictures from last year have just been put on our Facebook group, and the scenery looks so spectacular it’s physically UNREAL. Also, I’ve heard there’s going to be fireworks, street performances and giant dragons wandering through China Town to celebrate Chinese New Year in February, so that should be fab!

Black and white photo of ice climbing

Black and white photo of ice climbing

Exams are now a week in, and I’m really looking forward to celebrating their ending before second semester begins. I’ve already got my new timetable, and although I’ve got some fascinating new classes like Excitable Cells (more of a Neuroscience unit), some weeks I have 9 hours of labs alongside four 9am starts… but I’ve equally got the occasional Friday off! WOO!!

See you guys next semester!! 😀


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