Amazing how time flies so quickly. We’re partway through the 2nd semester before Easter break now!
Anyway, thanks for stopping by and welcome to my international student blog. As an introductory post I’ll keep it real sweet.
I’m Astynnia, a 2nd Year Biomedical Sciences student. From one of the world’s most multilingual and multicultural countries, I proudly represent Malaysia – specifically Sarawak, which is the home for Borneo’s natural wonders. And yes, just in case if you’re wondering, I do have a distinct Malaysian accent.
I survived the first semester! I have to admit that there was a huge transition from 1st year to 2nd year in terms of workloads and examinations. The key to success is consistency and discipline because you cannot afford to leave all your revision for lectures at the eleventh hour with the amount of facts that you have to remember. My recommendations for choosing 2nd year modules would be, go for those you’re interested in and refer to the handbook descriptions. Personally, I find that I score better in short-answered questions than essay-based questions because I find it easier to revise for specific and precise answers. So I made sure to choose as many modules with this exam format as possible! During 1st semester, I was pretty confident with the “Molecules and Cells in Human Disease” module because I’m really interested in pathology aka the diagnosis of disease. So in the 2nd semester (right now), I’m doing “Immunology” which is an extension of the module and it actually overlaps with another module I’m taking called “Parasitology”.
Some people say that 2nd semester of 2nd year is the most hectic period for a Life Sciences student. Yup, at the moment I can agree that they could be right! To start with, we are required to write a 9-page essay for our Dissertation based on the topic that we have chosen and it is worth 10 credits. It is similar to a Literature Review, where you read several scientific articles and gather the bits and pieces of information together to write your own essay. My topic is “Gut Microbiome and the Health of Colon”. Fret not as your supervisor is always available to help with the planning, so make sure to co-operate well with him/her. At the same time, we have a Research Skill Module (RSM) which goes on for 4 weeks. Basically, it comprises of 3 lab sessions per week, from 11am-5pm but it really depends on the complexity level of the experiment. It is a tiring month, but definitely valuable as it has made me feel like a real Biomedical Scientist, as we get hands-on experience to do blood and urine analysis. RSM has helped me to deepen my knowledge in clinical pathology and biochemistry. This is the career field that I am interested in, and I have done similar work during an internship back in Malaysia last summer. Also, the experiments that we conduct each week come with 4 short-answered assessments and an extended practical write-up (50% and 40% respectively).
After reading all this, I know it might sound scary with the overwhelming amount of work, but it is more than manageable. Especially when you have a best buddy who is taking the same modules and RSM as you! We always discuss and study together and have done since our 1st year. We’ve been lab partners ever since then! My first and last days of semester are always dedicated to her, and sometimes over the weekends we enjoy exploring Manchester’s cafes and restaurants. Being together for 1.5 years, I have learned a lot about Japanese culture which I find really interesting and unique such as “Coming of Age Day” and “Mochi-Pounding Ceremony”.
From Malaysia to Manchester, it takes me 3 flights and a total of almost 22 hours to arrive to the destination. So why is Manchester worth the effort? To begin with, I was privileged enough to be awarded a scholarship to pursue my degree in UK. I put UoM as my first choice because it has a high student satisfaction score for FLS and it was listed in the top 40 universities in the world for Life Sciences and Medicine. The cost of living in Greater Manchester is also more affordable in comparison to central London in terms of accommodation rental, transportation and eating out. So basically, I’ve got the best of both worlds – studying in a university with high reputation and good quality of student life. As a traveler/ globetrotter/ wanderlust (and any other similar terms that can be used to describe my passion), it is also easy to fly out from Manchester to other parts of Europe. As you might be able guess, travelling is my favourite pastime during the semester break and I have covered 17 countries since I graduated from college. I’ve just been to Spain and Morocco during the last Christmas break! As much as I have learned academically in the university, I have also acquired a lot of survival skills from general university life, such as organization and planning, adaptability and being street-smart as I travel. To best describe my adventures, I’ll share a few photos with you.
I think this pretty much sums up my first half of second year. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – so I strongly encourage you to enrich your university life with your passion because what makes you an all-rounder is not just your grade, but the experiences that you take away from university life. The people you meet, the contacts you make, the skills you learn, the activities you do and the fun you have – all of them pay higher returns in both the present and the future than your textbooks ever will.
Until next time!