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Durham University

Undergraduate

Josh Goswell

Why did you choose to study Chemistry at Durham University?

Durham was a very reputable university, and much cheaper than studying in London. I had wanted to study Chemistry since early on in secondary school, and after attaining good grades at AS level it was a logical choice in my UCAS form.

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

I remember walking around feeling like a kid again, completely in awe of how things worked differently at university. It’s exciting being lectured by current researchers, and their toys are much more expensive than things we got to play with at school.

Everyone was here with the aim of getting a degree and having fun, so it didn’t take long to find like-minded friends and settle into the routine of being an undergraduate.

What is student life at Durham University like?

It’s a fun challenge. Doing a demanding degree such as Chemistry requires a lot more concentration and work than most, and was a huge step up from school. But a small degree of organization enabled me to still fit in a good amount of exercise (I’m men’s captain of my college boat club), and still have a social life.

What do you enjoy most about studying and living here?

Living away from home is great, as you have much more independence to do as you please. Everything is within walking distance, and most of the time the weather is great in the NE, although snow gets really boring after a few months! Studying is intellectually very stimulating, and not a day goes by where I don’t learn something interesting. The course itself can be challenging at times, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

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

Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, both in the department and at college. There is a solid welfare structure set up to catch anyone who is struggling and needs help. Socially there is so much going on that you would be hard pressed not to find people with like-minded interests. Every hobby is pretty much catered for.

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

Both of these are undoubtedly my recent DUCK expedition to Tanzania. Raising such a large amount of money for charity required constant effort and thought over the year, so was extremely challenging. But finally ascending to the top of Kilimanjaro after a 4 day trek was a huge success for me.

What are your career plans and goals for the future?

I plan to take an extended break straight after my graduation. I became hooked on travelling after my gap year, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the world. Eventually I’d like to get a job that involves chemistry, but maybe in a different country, there are lots of opportunities currently in Australia, China and India. The possibility of doing a PhD is also something I’d like to look into.

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

By having a degree from such a good university, I’d like to think it would enable me to gain employment easier, whether here or abroad. Secondly after the level of mental taxation expected of you at university, going into a normal day job will seem relatively straightforward to manage.

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

Be prepared to work hard, but remember how well you will be set for progressing with the rest of your career/life with a degree from Durham. Don’t stress out and think that you’re not good enough to be here, it’s just about how much you’re willing to try.