Hi! My name’s Rosie and I’m a second year Chemistry student. I was very unsure about what I wanted to study at University until about a month before the UCAS deadline; at some point Maths and Philosophy, Surface Pattern Design and Law were all in the melting pot. I remember agonising over the choice and I was probably hoping that someone would come along and tell me what I should study and where! Part of the struggle was finding a degree that would satisfy my creative side as well as my numerate and scientific side. Although some may disagree, I do consider chemists to be imaginative people: we have to visualise and make sense of a world which we cannot see with our eyes – the world of the microscopic, of atoms, electrons and photons. After all the to-ing and fro-ing, I landed on a Chemistry degree because it was my favourite subject at A-level and I wanted a degree that would challenge me and bend my brain! I am in my second year now and feel genuinely lucky to have opted for Chemistry: studying a subject at degree level can be very different to studying it at A-level and you don’t quite know where your ‘ceiling’ is for a subject until you stretch yourself on a degree course. I also now realise, despite not being focused on future careers back then, just how diverse the career pathways are for chemists (and how valued we are for our skills) – fuels, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints and coatings, batteries etc.
I was encouraged by school to give Oxford a try but I hated almost every minute of the interview process! I think it takes a certain type of person to thrive in that environment and I realised that I’m not quite made of the right stuff. At some point it dawned on me that Birmingham has a great Chemistry course and that living at home would be a good option for me. This was reinforced when I was invited to an Applicants’ Day which I found refreshingly informal and not at all intimidating. Birmingham has an excellent pedigree for Chemistry – the Chemistry building is called Howarth after Sir Norman Howarth who worked at the University and was awarded the Noble Prize for his work on carbohydrates and Vitamin C. I also really like the campus – there’s some beautiful architecture and I love walking through the ‘green heart’ every day on my way to lectures. When I looked around, the new library, Sports Centre and CTL (a state of the art lab where chemists spend a lot of time) had just been built and there are some other exciting spaces currently being created for students to enjoy in the next few years. There seems to be every society and sport on offer – hummus, calligraphy and drone societies, you name it they have it! Another big attraction for me was that the chemistry department has an appreciation that people learn in different ways (more on that in a later blog). There is some fantastic support on offer, both for learning and welfare.