Bihe Chen talks about her experiences studying BSc Biochemistry as part of a 2+2 programme where she spent the first two year studying Biological Sciences at Fudan University in China and then two years studying Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham.
Title: BSc Biochemistry - 2 + 2 programme (follow for video)
Duration: 6.21 mins
Speaker Names (if given): S1 Bihe Chen - undergraduate
S1 My name is Bihe Chen and I'm currently a final year student of BSc Biochemistry in the University of Birmingham. [Repeated in Mandarin]. Before I came to Birmingham I already did two years of undergraduate studies in Fudan University and I've always wanted to get an education in a foreign country but I didn't have the chance to apply when I was in high school. And then there came this opportunity of the 2+2 programme where we get to learn biological sciences in Fudan for two years and then Biochemistry in Birmingham for two years. The programme offers a tuition cut in Birmingham. It's really economical and Birmingham University has a good reputation in biological and biochemistry sciences. The course here is better in terms of integrating research with undergraduate teaching. All our lecturers are actually the people who are doing the research in that topic and some of them are even the discoverers of a certain protein or gene.
When you're in Fudan you had a good basic knowledge of science and analytical skills and then you come to Birmingham you get a lot of frontier research-related biology stuff. It's different but it's a good integration the 2+2 programme. In terms of research opportunities, the programme stands out here because everyone gets to do a final year project where we're given a project, we do it for 10 or 12 weeks and the project is very original. We can take it any direction we want so it's a really good practice for us to see what being a researcher is like.
The lectures are quite short but there are lots of contents in the lectures and the handouts and the contents are well prepared so it's very efficient. Every day is so interesting we learn a lot.
Last summer I was trying to find some research opportunities as a summer intern. So I emailed several professors in the department and told them that I can work as a volunteer. I can pay my own expenses just to get experience. But a Professor from our department had me in his lab and one of his post-docs helped me get funding from the British Mycological Society. I was paid 200 pounds a week to do my own research, which was, I think, the highlight of my studies here because I got to do research and I got paid and it was fabulous!
I think living in Birmingham is great because it's the second largest city in the UK there are lots of interesting things going on in the city centre. There’s a Chinatown where I can go to restaurants every week if I want. The university might be a bit away from the city centre but we have our own train station so it's really convenient.
In terms of accommodation I think most people would probably struggle whether to live on campus in university housing or off campus. It really depends on what you want. Last year I was in university housing on The Vale. I was in Maple Bank. It’s one of the cheapest choices of accommodation available but I felt that the house was great; all the bills were included so it's really convenient. The environment was really great, there was a lake and a mini-forest but it's a bit far away from the University and there were no supermarkets around.
So this year I moved out of university housing and I'm living in a private house in Selly Oak. It's close and convenient but it’s really complicated when you have to pay the water bill, internet bills and everything. So I would suggest international students live on campus for the first year and then start looking for houses in the second year.
I was involved in a few societies like the International Student Association, the Toastmasters Club and the Guild of Students. For people doing a biochemistry course we don't have a lot of free time but I did manage to join some societies and it was a really rewarding experience because different students from different countries can come together. I think most international students might be a little worried that they will not really mingle with people in the society but what I felt was this is not a problem because everyone is welcome and if you're really confident and interested you'll have a great time.
I will probably do a PhD in Biochemistry and I got some really good offers, for example here in the UK I got into the University of Cambridge and in the US I got into the University of Chicago and Pennsylvania. I think being in Birmingham really helped me with experience because I got really good recommendations letters from some famous scientists here and the English studying environment really helped with the application process. I know that a lot of people considering the programme, their worry would be if they can adjust to the environment here in terms of learning, living and making friends. I know people who came here and did really great and the commonality in those people who did great is that they're confident, they're not afraid, they're keen to go forward and even though they might not speak good English they were still willing to communicate and after a year they spoke really good English. So my advice (suggestion) would be, be confident, believe in yourself. Take advantage of all the help from the environment, from your tutor, from the department and then make it, use it all to your advantage.
[In mandarin] Welcome to study here. I hope you find your own place and enjoy your time.
END OF RECORDING