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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Meet the Undergraduate - May Khalid Abdulla, BSc Chemistry

May has just finished her second year of BSc Chemistry and is the first in her family to go to university. In this blog she refects on her time studying at Queen Mary so far.

May Khalid Abdulla

The Mile End Campus 

First of all, Queen Mary campus is safe and has a lot of open spaces to relax. I really enjoy sitting by the canalside or in the parks next to the university with friends after lectures and there are numerous convenience stores near the university for quick snacks and drinks (my favourite is canned strawberry milk). There's also a nice buzz to campus when there are events at the Library Square and students can get freebies!

The Chemistry course at Queen Mary

In my year, there is a near 50:50 ratio of women and men, this is great as being on a course with a majority of one gender can be daunting for some. Also, the majority of students in my year live in London and commute, but there are also students that live on campus as they live outside London or are international students.

I remember in the first week of first year when I attended the Queen Mary Chemistry Society meeting, where we could talk to second and third year students about their experience, they said that the second year was the hardest. However now that I have completed the second year, I completely disagree, and I definitely enjoyed the second year. This may have been because in first year I had to re-adapt and relearn new techniques for studying. Therefore, once I found this through trial and error, all I needed to do was to stay organised and consistently keep on top of work. I also enjoyed second year more as I learnt about chemistry that lecturers themselves are researching. In addition, I enjoyed being taught more challenging in modules such as quantum chemistry and inorganic chemistry as it was the next step from my A level knowledge.

The Lecturers

Whenever I enter the JP Building, lecturers always make an effort to say hello and are very easy to talk to, especially your advisor (who is assigned to you at the beginning of first year). If there is a concept I haven't understood and I have tried my best to understand it through textbooks, forums or asking my peers, then lecturers are always happy to help. I found this extremely useful as not only is my question answered, but lecturers add in relevant points which links one topic to another, thus deepening your understanding of the topic. Plus, you’ll start to be recognised by your lecturers (good for when you want them to write your reference for jobs and internships)

My favourite module

The Scientific Programming module has been by far my favourite module in second year. This has surprised me, as initially I thought the coursework would be difficult and I wouldn't enjoy it, as I didn’t know how programming would be incorporated into chemistry. However, this also was the complete opposite, the work started as complete beginners and the level of difficulty slowly increased every week, and lecturers explained code concepts extremely well in lectures. In addition, every computer lab session had PhD student supervisors and the lecturer to support and explain anything we didn't understand. I also enjoyed the practical use of code, such as storing and extracting data in libraries, easily create charts without needing to graph it and study the photoexcitation in crystals.

My advice and tips to future students

One method of studying I found extremely effective is to use resources and slides from Google. This is done through adding a module name or a specific concept and writing ppt or pdf, e.g. eigen wilkins equation ppt (or pdf). This search gives you resources from different individuals, which is helpful because they may word differently or use different diagrams. In addition, I would also advise to treat midterm exams as if it were the real end of module exam and study hard for it. This reduces the amount you need to study for at the end for the actual end of module exam and makes revision material less daunting. Finally, I would also advise incoming chemists to make an effort to engage with their peers, whether it’s in lecture or labs. This not only makes university more enjoyable but also allows you to find a friendship group with similar goals and determination.



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