Physics at the University of Birmingham
Why Choose Birmingham?
When I started looking at universities I decided to visit a number of open days and when I came to Birmingham I entered the Physics Department and within about five minutes I was sat down with some of the lecturers, talking not only about physics but about my interests and what they liked to do outside of the department, and I just felt it was a really friendly environment and I wanted to learn somewhere where I felt comfortable. So after visiting a number of other universities I decided that Birmingham fitted the lifestyle which I wanted more than anywhere else so I chose to come here.
In my first year I lived in the Beeches which is one of the satellite sites of the university. When I arrived I was quite worried because I’d never visited the site before and I didn’t know any of the people I was moving in with. We sort of sat around quite quietly until everyone’s parents went home but then within about ten minutes everyone went down to the car park and I met about 50 people in the first minute and after that it was one community of people. We had the same worries and concerns because we were all in the same situation. So advice to people who are applying for university now, don’t worry about your accommodation, it really doesn’t matter where you live, it’s going to be the people that you meet that make your experience, not necessarily what your bedroom looks like. Saying that, we were in one of the cheaper accommodations and everything was of a perfect standard. We didn’t have any issues whatsoever so it’s not something to be concerned about.
There's a wide range of facilities available on campus for students. Walking around the campus you could quite easily get everything you need for day to day life. We’ve got the Spar, you can go and get some food, there’s a number of nice cafes where you can meet friends, go over some work if you need to do something. It’s a very chilled atmosphere. The library contains every book you could ever need for your course so no matter what your niche subject is that you’re trying to learn about, they’ll have a book for you. If they don’t, their ordering in service is excellent so I know for a few of my projects we’ve been studying things which are quite different from maybe what other people are doing and the library have been really helpful about locating sources for us. There’s a number of banks on campus so if you need to go and sort out your finances you can do that just in between lectures so you don’t have to go into town, even though it’s only a short journey. The Munroe sports centre’s got an excellent gym so I know – we go and play badminton in a couple of our breaks between lectures. It’s just a really nice way to break up your day and get some other things done while you’re on campus without having to travel too far.
Advice to Prospective Students
My advice to prospective students who are looking at applying for university next year would be to research what course they want to do – to go and study – first, but then to go and visit a number of universities. You can only really get a feel of somewhere from visiting so you can learn a lot of the basic facts from a prospectus but you’re not going to understand what the atmosphere’s like or get a chance to talk to students unless you go on a visit. So go and visit the universities and departments you’re interested in studying at and ask the questions which you don’t necessarily think that other people would be interested in but the ones that are important to you. So if there’s a particular hobby you’ve got that you want to continue, check that there’s facilities available for you to do that and just to make sure that you’re going to be happy at the place that you choose.
After I finish my degree I’d like to work in the financial sector, which may seem a little bit of a jump from physics, but some of the transferable skills I’ve learnt such as analytical skills, working with groups of people – we quite often work in teams on lab projects – and other sort of soft skills like computer based work, quite a lot of these can be found in a number of degree programmes and are applicable to a wide range of jobs. So if you’re not necessarily sure what you want to do after you’ve finished your degree, it doesn’t mean that you’re narrowing your choices down by taking a particular career path at a university level, you can change your mind afterwards for what you want to do.
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