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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Meet the Undergraduate - Aisha Sharif, BSc Chemistry

Aisha has just finished her first year studying chemistry and in this blog tells us how she has found studying at Queen Mary so far


Moving to London

Moving away from home can be daunting but exciting at the same time. In September 2019, I was the first child to move away from home to go to university. Part of me was anxious yet eager at the same time. Going to London seems so amazing- with so much going on, you would never seem to run out of things to do. When I first arrived, I was a little bit sceptical about living in student accommodation as I didn’t know the people I would be sharing the flat with, but as soon as I got there, everyone seemed so friendly and nice, and we ended up becoming really good friends. The best thing about QMUL accommodation is that it is on campus so it would just be a 5-minute walk to get to lectures, which allows you to sleep in! Staying in accommodation was really fun, as despite not being in the same course, we got to know each other really well and we would go to societies together, go out for lunch and all cook together once every two weeks.

Being a First Year Chemistry Student

Life as a first-year chemistry student isn’t too difficult. In semester A and B, I would have four modules and one day for lab. I would have a lecture each day for each of the four modules and they would all come with a problem-solving workshop every two weeks. I enjoyed the workshops as it would give us a chance to practice what we did in the lecture. For labs, we would be split into two groups- a morning or afternoon group. In semester A, my lab time was from 1:30-5:30 which, although it may seem like a long time, actually went really fast, and once we finished the lab, we could leave. In semester B, I was in the labs from 9:00-1:00. My favourite module has to be organic chemistry- this was a module we studied in both semesters, and in semester B, it definitely got much more challenging. The one module which surprised me was inorganic as the link between organic and inorganic is a lot stronger than I thought. Exams in first year were semester based, which means you would only get tested on the modules you did in that specific semester, which I found really helpful!

What I do when I’m free

In my free time, there are plenty of activities to do around East London, or you could even go into Central London. I had a part time job working 10 hours a week. This would allow me to have time to go out, do my work and have enough time for my job. For me, working 10 hours wasn’t that bad as I organised my time efficiently. My work was really flexible so I could easily take time off if I needed when it got closer to exams or if I had any deadlines.

Overall, I had a very interesting first year, what with some of it being on campus and some online. University is fun if you plan your work so you don’t have to stress last minute. Some tips for first year students would be: invest in a whiteboard- you learn so many mechanisms and having a whiteboard makes it so much easier. For modules that have lots of maths, practice questions from books and slides, as this will help you get a range of exposure to questions. And finally, remember to enjoy your first year, it only gets harder, remember on your first day, you are in the same position as everyone else, so don’t worry!



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