“Being able to step outside the lecture theatre and see your handouts turn into things you could pluck out of a rock pool was so exciting. Studying like that makes you feel like Darwin...”
Why I chose Birmingham
Having looked through all the prospectuses offered by Universities around the country and visiting campuses, Birmingham really stood out above the rest. On an open day we were taken into the Great Hall and shown around the Lapworth museum, and all of a sudden I felt like I had to take my place in its history, I had to study under that magnificent roof with fossils under my feet! I personally was drawn towards the beautiful old buildings and the name the uni carried with it. I wanted to be able to say I’d studied here.
Why my course stood out to me
The department of biology at the University of Birmingham showed innovation and passion, every member of staff I talked to and in every corner of the building there was evidence of an underlying field of research. I liked that there seemed to be a balance between field studies and laboratory work, I wanted to get a feel for where my path lay (I had no idea what I wanted to do back then) so trying new things excited me. The field courses leapt out at me immediately; Norway, Florida, humble Pembrokeshire!
My personal highlight
A field course I took part in in second year. It was adaptations to aquatic environments, within the context of the seashore environment. Nothing can really prepare you for the amount of work required in field studies and this was a big week! But being able to step outside the lecture theatre and see your handouts turn into things you could pluck out of a rockpool was so exciting. I was hooked on the idea of pursuing fieldwork from there on. It was so rewarding to be able to design an experiment and independently gather data, developing questions and testing hypotheses. Study like that makes you feel like Darwin, I felt like my entire degree had been put into a context I hadn’t realised before!
Living in Birmingham
I live at home with my parents not too far from the train station, which is really convenient. Having the train station directly on campus (and about two seconds from my building!) makes transport effortless. Personally I like living so close to the University ut being able to go home whenever I need to. The proximity of the Queen Elizabeth hospital is invaluable too.
Clubs, societies or events I've been involved in
In my first year I joined the wine Society, which was so interesting and refined! A refreshing thing to see in a University and so much fun. The club I am most heavily involved in (since second year) is the Mountaineering Club. I’ve met life-long friends there and have had such incredible adventures with them. I’ve seen some of the UK’s most beautiful places and pushed myself to achieve things I never thought possible. I’m stronger in body and soul for it! The club has done an excellent job of breaking the semesters up for me, climbing is a fantastic way to wind down when you’ve got a lot of deadlines and keeps you fit. The socials are hilarious and I’ve got some of the best (and worst!) memories from them, and the photos to prove it! (What ever happened to that wig…?)
My aspirations for the future
I aim to stay within the realms of biological research, solely in the field. My current interest lies in Ornithology and I hope to discover more about the subject through my Master’s course and working with the Centre for Ornithlogy at the University. I never want to stop learning. Biology is evolving constantly, and the books are constantly being updated. It is a discipline we are heavily reliant on to direct our decisions in a changing climate. Conservation is at the heart of everything I am interested in, and I want to learn more about the applications of that discipline to field ecology.
My top tips for prospective Birmingham students
Two things really. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and get ahead of yourself. There is no greater feeling when you complete all your deadlines with time to spare, and that may mean you have to turn down some nights out and decline friends, but it’s completely worth it to finish early and enjoy all the free time in one go. Push yourself, you will be surprised what you can do when you put your mind to it.