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Durham University

Undergraduate

Katie Marsh

Why did you choose to study Chemistry at Durham University?

I simply fell in love with Durham when I visited on the Open Day and knew immediately it was the place for me. The fact that Durham is actually just a quaint town with such a vibrant atmosphere- it was exactly what I wanted from my university experience. The collegiate system also appealed due to its inclusive and friendly nature- it’s like a little community and soon becomes where you belong. In addition Durham University has such a great reputation and the Chemistry department is so highly rated, which again was a huge plus.

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

I remember just having a great time! Basically the first few weeks are quite hectic (but in a good way), meeting loads of new people, enjoying college bops and formals and delving into college and university sport. At first the way of teaching was indeed very different to the small, chatty classes I was used to a school. You soon learned that with regards to your studies the onus is much more on you- but that’s great, you soon get used to it and settle in to the way of things! In addition the Chemistry Department at Durham is really approachable and supportive so if you ever need advice you only need knock.

What is student life at Durham University like?

It’s basically a juggling act between your studies, social life and sport. As a result it’s busy but that’s the best way to be! There are so many opportunities and societies to get involved in, both uni-wide and college based, thus you get to meet so many great people and have such a laugh. Also as a student you obviously cannot miss out on the Durham clubbing experience- there are no words that can possibly describe Klute - you will just have to experience it for yourself!

What do you enjoy most about studying and living here?

I think for me it is the collegiate system, I think it’s great. From the very first day during Freshers week there is a real sense of community; Freshers reps from previous years are there to ease you into university life and tell you all the do’s and don’ts. Throughout the year college puts on so many social events and provides a plethora of societies and sports to become involved with, which really allow you to settle in and feel at home. It also allowed me to try new sports, such as rowing, since the caliber isn’t as great as the Uni level! However the collegiate system by no means makes Durham cleaky since there are so many university-wide opportunities to take part in from the sports pitch through to Entrepreneurs Durham. Essentially at Durham there is something for everyone!

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

Because of the collegiate nature of the university, the community feel is great at Durham. Through college bops, formals, sports and societies you interact with people from all years which is invaluable, especially in Freshers term and getting advice! Also due to the fact that Durham city is essentially the university all social events are tailored towards students, thus there is always such a great buzz and great atmosphere.

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

I think the greatest challenge, compared to A-levels, is getting used to the fact that you can’t answer everything- especially with regards to chemistry tutorial questions! However there is always support- whether it be your peers or the tutors within the Chemistry department.

I have only been at Durham for a year but so far my greatest success academically was probably the research project that we undertook in the Chemistry labs during Epiphany term. This was the first time that I had actually had the opportunity to completely plan, carry-out and write-up a project of interest to me by myself. Although it sounds quite daunting- and a year ago I would not have been able to do it- it somewhat went to plan! It really makes you realise just how much you do develop at university, even within such a short space of time.

What are your career plans and goals for the future?

To be honest as of yet I have not cemented on any ideas with regards to career plans. What’s great with a Chemistry degree is that so many doors have been left open for me so at the moment I am getting experience in a variety of career paths so when I graduate I will have found that dream job, hopefully!

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

Through doing Chemistry my organisational and time-management skills have definitely been put to use which is vital in the career market. In addition working in the lab has also enhanced my teamwork and communication skills which are also essential qualities. A Chemistry degree and Durham is also highly rated and thus will hold many doors open to you, which if you take the initiative will lead to success.

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

When studying Chemistry at Durham (or anywhere for that matter) things will stump you and require much more thought and perseverance than you are previously used to. However everyone else is probably experiencing the same thing- just remember that your degree is supposed to be challenging!