Bihe Chen

chen-biheBSc Biochemistry 

Graduated in 2014 from the 2+2 China Partnership Programme

“I think studying abroad has given me the time and space to think about myself – what I really want and what I really believe in.”

Why did you decide to study Biosciences 2+2 at the University of Birmingham?

Before enrolling in UoB, I have already done 2 years of my undergraduate degree in Fudan University. While Fudan had a very rigorous undergraduate ciriculum in Biology, I felt that I could do better in a learning environment that provided more focus on individuals. After chatting with friends a year above me who had already started the 2+2 program in UoB, I felt very positive about the method of teaching in Birmingham – short but carefully taylored lectures, bi-weekly tutorials, hands-on lab sessions and high-quality final year project selections. Therefore I decided to enrol in the 2+2 program where I would spend the same amount of years for a Chinese undergraduate course but finish with degrees from two world-class universities, and with the prestigious Dean’s Scholarship!

What is your personal highlight of studying at Birmingham?

In terms of academic achievement, I was thrilled when I learnt that my 2nd year grade average was ranked 2nd in the entire degree program!

In terms of research experience, I got the chance to do a summer project in Professor Robin May’s lab, supervisored by Dr Rebecca Hall. The research project was a very interesting exploration of fungal pathogenesis and I also got paid £200/week by a bursary from the Mycological Society.

In terms of extracurricular activities, I was elected International Officer in the Guild of Students in the 3rd year of my degree. At the same time, my friends and I also started the UoB branch of Toastmasters' Club!

Reflecting on those highlights, I think I would never be able to achieve them if it weren’t for the support from my degree program and especially my tutor Dr Steve Minchin.

How do you find living in Birmingham?

I think Birmingham is a good place for students to live in. The university provides affordable and high quality accommodations. It is also easy to find good and cheap places to rent privately. In Birmingham I probably spent only half of what I’m spending now in Cambridge! The distance of UoB from the city center not only provides good access to social venues but also prevents students from getting wasted every day – good news for those trying to get a degree!

What are the main differences between studying at the University of Birmingham and your university in China?

I think UoB is a better fit for me because compared to Chinese Universities:

  1. UoB provides additional opportunities for those who are intellectually curious and passionate about their subject, not just those who have the highest GPA
  2. UoB gives more attention to individuals and provided more hands-on research experience
  3. UoB has a more international community of students and provides a steeper learning curve, not just academically, but for life-learning as well!

What is your top tip for other students thinking of coming to study at Birmingham?

Perserverance – it won’t be easy in the beginning, having to adapt to the English speaking environment, fast-paced learning and essay style exams. But perservering through that will make your life much easier after the first year in UoB!

What are your aspirations for the future and how has studying abroad benefited you?

During my PhD I started to develop a great interest in business – something completely unexpected before! So right now my dream is to become a management consultant in the first 5 years after my PhD and then move on to management positions in retail or pharmaceutical companies. I think studying abroad has given me the time and space to think about myself – what I really want and what I really believe in. During that process of learning about myself, it’s unbelievable how much help and advice I got from great people, both in Birmingham 3 years ago and now in Cambridge!