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Durham University

Department of Chemistry

Arthur Lit (Singapore), MChem student

Why did you choose to study Chemistry at Durham University?

As a subject, Chemistry appealed to me for various reasons including its vast applications in the outside world. More specifically, Chemistry at Durham offers a well-rounded curriculum that would prepare myself for both the research world and industry. In particular, the emphasis places on practical labs and the availability of well-equipped facilities enable students to experiment with and polish practical skills.

What are your memories of the first few weeks as a newly arrived undergraduate student in Durham?

Initially, like other international students, I was apprehensive about studying abroad and adjusting to a different culture. Starting afresh in a different environment was challenging. Thankfully, my college fresher representatives were warm-hearted and welcoming. They helped me settle into college and made fresher’s week particularly enjoyable. The Chemistry department was also very helpful. Numerous induction talks were given by professors to ease transition from high school to university.

What is student life as a Durham University like? 

Student life in Durham University allows for the perfect balance between work and play. Being a student town, Durham accommodates for a fulfilling learning experience. Without the distraction and difficulties that often entail moving into a new city, the small town offers peaceful comfort that really helps students to focus and thrive in their studies. Moreover, the university has numerous societies, offering many opportunities to pursue or even discover new hobbies. Sport societies are held at both university and college levels. Therefore, students have the option of participating in a sport at the level they are comfortable at. Moreover, the vibrant college life provides students ample opportunities to interact and learn the cultures of other international and home students.

What do you enjoy most about studying and living here?

Durham promotes and encourages a friendly and collaborative community. This is particularly enforced in the individual colleges where a lot of effort is put in so that no one is left out. More importantly, the extensive support and help received from professors, staff and student alike, makes learning in Durham rewarding and enjoyable.

In your opinion, what is the key to successful acclimatisation to studying Chemistry in Durham as an international student?

I believe that the key to success for an international student studying Chemistry is to get involved and have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone. Durham offers many opportunities for one to expand his/ her horizons both academically and personally. The challenge is to find the confidence to seize the opportunities given to us.

What is the student community and students’ social life at Durham like?

The student community is diverse and vibrant. There is a chance to meet students from all around the world, particularly through societies, such as the Singapore society and the Malaysian society. Such societies also enable international students to find a small piece of home in this global student community. Another part of student life that I particularly enjoyed was the monthly college formals. I always look forward to a night of dressing up and dining with one another in a formal setting. It truly is a unique experience.

What was your biggest challenge and your greatest success in your time at Durham so far?

My biggest challenge at Durham was getting accustomed to living alone in a foreign country. From cooking my own meals to house hunting, I feel that I have successfully overcome the challenges I faced when I left home. Through these experiences, I have learnt a number of important life-skills. Every day, I feel that I have grown more independent. This would have to be my greatest achievement.

What are your career plans and goals for the future?

In the future, I hope to be a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry.

How will a Durham Chemistry degree help you achieve these goals?

A Durham Chemistry degree builds and refines students to be versatile. This skill is particularly important to me as I aspire to carry out independent research and work alongside other research groups. Furthermore, I feel that the critical thinking and problem solving skills developed throughout the course, especially during the practical laboratory course, will have various useful applications to my life and academic career.

Is there any advice you’d give to other international students thinking about doing Chemistry at Durham?

My advice to students thinking about Chemistry at Durham is to be receptive. Professors and advisers give advices that are highly valuable to the education you would receive here at Durham. As mentioned before, being open and getting involved would make your time in Durham both fruitful and enjoyable.