It felt like it was just a few days ago that I was chilling under the warm Malaysian summer sun! It is amazing how the seasons fly by so quickly.
A bit about me
As an introduction, I’m Astynnia, a 3rd Year BSc Biomedical Sciences student. From one of the world’s most multilingual and multicultural countries, I proudly represent Malaysia — specifically Sarawak, which is the home of Borneo’s natural wonders.
“There are no shortcuts to success”
First month of final year
I survived the first month of my final year! I have to admit that it was a huge transition from second year to third year in terms of examinations and workload. Basically, final year exams are all essay based and we have approximately two hours to answer two short questions (sigh).
As you can imagine, the idea of answering an exam question by incorporating the information from other units and any additional reading freaked me out at first.
However, after a few tutorial sessions I realised that there are no shortcuts to success other than consistency, good time management, family support, peer support, and high level of wellbeing. It is almost impossible to excel by just memorising a list of facts without understanding the information.
Having positive relationships with friends and family members promotes good mental and physical health, which is important for students. Students like to feel that they have control over their life and have a sense of purpose.
Third year projects and modules
This year, most of us spent our first semester with our eyes on screens and fingers over the keyboard for our Literature Reviews, the first part of our Final Year Projects.
I have been assigned a lab-based project in the field of Structural Biology, which is “Localisation of CFTR in Yeast Cells and The Effect of Current Cystic Fibrosis Therapeutic VX-770 and VX-809”. Sounds pretty cool but it is hard work! A lot of reading needs to be done to understand the topic thoroughly.
As for 3rd year modules, we are required to take 6 units to make up our credits. For the first half of the semester, I am doing “Advanced Immunology” and “Cell Signalling”, and for the second half, I am doing “Cell Adhesion”. They are hard, but I guess nothing is easy in final year!
As such, to reduce the workload burden, I decided to take a non-biology unit, “Leadership in Action”. It is an online unit where you have to be committed in doing self-directed learning, as there will be no lectures involved.
Besides that, it is a requirement for us to do a minimum of 20 hours’ volunteering work throughout the year. I don’t mind doing it because it is really fun and satisfying!
My first volunteering experience was selling raffle tickets at Manchester Food and Drink Festival (MFDF) Gala Awards Dinner two weeks ago. It was a glittering event at the Palace Hotel and it taught me to be flexible in social networking, as I had to approach the guests who were the candidates for the excellence in the Hospitality Industry Awards.
“It must have been destiny for us both to come all the way to Manchester…”
Life outside of studying
After reading all of this, I know it might sound scary with the overwhelming amount of work, but it is manageable when you have an awesome buddy to go through the final year with!
We took the same modules, are both doing lab-based projects and have been discussing and studying together since first year. It must have been destiny for us both to come all the way to Manchester and become really good friends.
Having a Japanese friend for more than 2 years meant I had the chance to visit Tokyo over summer. It was a golden opportunity for me to visit my friend’s country and I had a memorable trip learning about their unique culture.
As usual, we dedicated our first days of the semester to each other by exploring Manchester’s cafés and restaurants. That is our favourite pastime — catching up over tea, coffee, or even bubble tea. We went to Manchester Cat Cafe and I really loved the ambience (calling all cat lovers). It was a relaxing Friday evening with the cats!
We also tried Tampopo at Manchester’s Albert Square and the food was so good! We ordered Laksa Soup and Pad Thai. The portions were generous and I would highly recommend the restaurant to those who want a warm Eastern meal.
What makes Manchester great
From Malaysia to Manchester, it takes me 3 flights and a total of almost 22 hours to arrive at my destination. So, why is Manchester worth the effort?
To begin with, I was privileged enough to be awarded a scholarship to pursue my degree in the UK. Manchester was my first choice because it has a high student satisfaction score for biology, medicine and health, and it was listed in the top 40 universities in the world for life sciences and medicine.
The cost of living in Greater Manchester is also more affordable in comparison to central London in terms of accommodation rental, transportation and eating out.
So basically, I’ve got the best of both worlds – studying at a university with a good reputation and a high quality student life.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…enrich your university life with your passions.”
Also, as a traveller with wanderlust, I find it easy to fly out from Manchester to other parts of Europe. You may have guessed that travelling is my favourite pastime during the semester break — I have covered 20 countries since I graduated from college!
Make the most of university life
This pretty much sums up my first month of my final year. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – so I strongly encourage you to enrich your university life with your passions, because what makes you an all-rounder is not just your grade, but the experiences that you take away from university life.
The people you meet, the contacts you make, the skills you learn, the activities you do and the fun you have — all of them pay higher returns in both the present and the future than your textbooks ever will.
Until next time!