Recap of my first year at Warwick (Part 1: course and department)
Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog! Going into the second year of my Chemistry BSc degree feels even more daunting than the first… but in this first part of the blog, I’ll be telling you all about my course and departmental experiences from my initial year at Warwick!
TERM 1: I was slightly anxious starting off the year because, like the majority of the cohort, I hadn’t touched any of my books or notes in so long because of the disruption with school and exams due to COVID-19. Despite my pre-uni nerves, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated! The module content was generally graspable as it was mainly a summary of things covered during A-Level Chemistry with the exception of a few concepts. Without doubt, the hardest module for me in the first term was ‘Introduction to Physical Chemistry’ as this was a combination of, *you guessed it*, maths and physics. These have always been two of my weakest areas within the subject and the amount of equations and further maths content involved was quite staggering at first. Another thing to note were the maths exams and the new technology. There were two maths exams and surprisingly, I didn’t find them too difficult. On the other hand, getting used to the new scientific software (Chemdraw, Origin etc) was quite overwhelming for someone who’d never explored this area of technology before, but it turned out to be super helpful and I used them regularly in most of my assignments throughout the year.
TERM 2: *LOCKDOWN* I stayed at home for this whole term so it was pretty boring and uni life was standard in terms of work. The only difficulty and slightly annoying thing was virtual labs because I feel like it took away from the value of practicals as we weren’t experiencing things first-hand… and not to mention how time-consuming they were :/
TERM 3: *EXAM SEASON* It’s safe to say that everyone was feeling the stress of this term as exams were always on the forefront of everyone’s minds. A normal day would consist of back-to-back lectures for a couple of hours. These were exam-focussed revision sessions where we would go through past paper questions, and I found them really useful. The highlight of term 3 (and you’ll hear me bang on about this forever) was labs. I found the practicals so interesting and loved being able to interact with my course mates in the laboratory setting!
GENERAL: Although most of the year was online, I didn’t actually mind it. Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, however, I was fortunate to have had a decent amount of in-person things scheduled (seminars, labs etc) compared to other courses. My favourite part of first year was labs. This was such a shock for me because I didn’t enjoy practicals during sixth form, but I’ve absolutely loved them at uni. Having a good lab group definitely helps and I was fortunate to have grown close to mine over the year, along with making other good friends within the cohort. I also loved the environment and the independence that we were given; of course we were given plenty of assistance initially, but it was such a promising start to my future lab endeavours and it’s the aspect of my degree that I look forward to most in the upcoming academic year! Given the challenging circumstances, I think it’s especially important to make the most of the opportunities that are made available to you, regardless of whether we’re in lockdown or not.