My First Year on a Chemistry Degree
It’s been just over a month since I finished my first year at Warwick. I think about this time last year and it feels like a lifetime ago, so much has changed and there have been so many ups and downs, yet I wouldn’t change a thing. I have to say, nothing can really prepare you for it, it was nothing like I expected, but i have learnt so much. I could talk for ages about life at uni and everything but the course, but the whole reason you go to uni is to study. Chemistry for me is something I always come back to, I try other things and them I’m like ‘nah, chemistry it is’ and I’m so glad I stuck at it. The chemistry department at warwick is amazing. From the lectures, to the labs, to socials, it is crucial that you enjoy it. Here are the top 5 things I learnt studying chemistry in my first year at warwick:
- You probably won’t like every moduleIt doesn’t matter how passionate about chemistry you are, there will be someting that you just find painful to learn. Personally, I really struggled with physical chemistry (quantm mechanics – ew!), but it made me realise how much I loved the organic stuff. What I realised is that none of it is easy, but you find the topics that you enjoy the chanllenge of, that engages you to learn and that is the whole point, to discover which fields you want to stick with when it comes to optional modules and, in the end, your career. You have to stick it out for now, but in the long run, knowing what you don’t want to do is just as good as knowing what you do want to do.
- Revise as you goThe first year is all about figuring out what revsion techniques work best for you and settling in to a whole new world of note taking. Persoanlly, the drawing tablet the department give you at the start of the year was a life saver. I would electronically write my notes onto the lecture slides during the lectures, and then, when revising, I printed off these notes on the slides and wrote key notes by hand and some flashcards for me to have ease of access in the exam if i needed them, as it was open book. I know a lot of people who also use OneNote to write all their notes, which I might try next year, but i find that having a hardcopy is also useful. But I will be doing this as I go after each topic next year, instead of doing it all at the end, that way you have more time to do practice questions, which are essential to your revision nearer the exams.
- Get out of your room to studyWith covid rules still being in place when I started the year, a lot of the lectures were online and I did most of it in my room. But as the year progressed I saw the benefits of having a very seperate work and home environemnt. It’s hard when you only have one space that is yours, but me and my coursemates would arrange to go to the librry or the FAB to study together so that our rooms were an area of relaxation, not stress. It takes a bit more planning and orginisation, especially if you don’t want to spend endless amounts of money on coffee, but it allowed me to sperate my time and I became more productive out of the house so that I had more time to socialise when i was back at the flat. Finding the balance for you is crucial, learn it as soon as you can so you are able to get on with the work effectively.
- Don’t compare to other studentsThere would be times when I thought some people were doing way more work than me, or they seemed to find everything easier than me and it all felt too hard. But after talking to coursemates, turns out, everyone feels the same. To get into warwick, everyone is very intelligent. So you go from being an A grade student at college, to being pretty average at uni, and that can be a little demoralising. But also, you’re surrounded by like-minded indiviualls who are all just trying to figure it out as well. I learnt very early on that I am not a crammer, or an all-nighter. I need my sleep and rest otherwise I will not function. So whilst some people wokred 8 hours straight, I would work for 2, go to the gym, or have an hour chatting over lunch, and then do a bit more. It’s not like school, you have complete control over when and how you do things. As long as it works for you, and you’re keeping up and you’re happy, thats all that matters.
- Your first year doesn’t matter…. too much A lot of people I know stressed out a lot about the exams. And it was stressful, you’ve never done anything like it. But rememebr, for BSc it’s only 10% of your degree, for MChem (like myself) it’s only 5%. You basically just have to pass. I think the most important thing of first year is everthing but the course. It’s making friends, learning to live on your own, learning the study techniques that work for you. The course is just getting everyone onto a level playing field so that you’re ready for the gritty stuff to start in year 2. My advice is try to just focus on balance, find how the course works for you, how uni works for you, not the other way round. Try your hardest to get the most out of everything, that’s all anyone can ask of you.
Chemistry was the perfect course for me, it is allowing me to explore the world around me, in more ways than I can explain and I am excited to use everything I’ve learnt so far in my second ear. But for now…. SUMMER!!