FBMH Stories: Oliver Chow

As part of our #FBMHStories feature for Instagram, we chatted to Oliver Chow, a second year BSc Neuroscience student. He explains why Manchester was his first choice and chatted about his future travel plans.


Why did you choose to study here?

I have lived here for nearly 10 years now. I went to London for the UCL summer school and, although their Neuroscience course is the same as here in the ratings, it was too fast paced. I feel like I can take my time to do things here in Manchester whereas in London the pace is just one hundred miles an hour. It is also very sociable here.

What made you choose Manchester over other northern cities?

My applications were a bit weird, as I was still deciding which part of life sciences I wanted to get into. I chose neuroscience and Manchester’s course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, so that confirmed my view that Manchester was the best in the country.

[Currently, our bioscience degrees with a year in industry, modern language or MSci component have RSB advance accreditation.] 

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How did you choose neuroscience over other areas of life sciences?

I wasn’t sure whether I was even going to apply for uni in the summer before I applied. I only started going to open days in September, which was pretty late. Liz Sheffield was doing the presentation and convinced me that neuroscience was the most interesting area to study.

What swayed your decision to go to university?

I really enjoy studying, and once I had decided on the course I really wanted to learn more. When I see an article on BBC about something like Alzheimer’s I think, “That’s why I am studying it”.

What has been the best thing about your course, so far?

Second year has been more focused on neuroscience. I think the best thing has been meeting other people on the course. The best thing about university is meeting people from all over the world. I have come from 20 minutes away, but some have come from further afield — the US and China, to name just a few.

What are you hoping to do following your studies?

This is where I get some stick from people doing neuroscience — not research! Sometimes I think about doing a postgrad because I may need it to get a job but I would be more interested in management of people. I worked for NCS (National Citizens Service) over summer as a Senior Mentor, leading people. I would like to be a manager in finance, business, retail, marketing or sales. I do want to travel first, so I need to look ahead to a year and a half and see if it’s possible, or if I have any money for it.

Where do you want to travel?

My mate and I went to the pub and started planning a US road trip. We got back home and actually calculated how much that would cost and it came to £9,000! We didn’t even include flights. That is the dream.

I went on an expedition to Mongolia two and a half years ago and volunteered at a daycare centre. They taught me the Mongolian alphabet, which I can’t remember now. We built a basketball court for children and also taught lessons to them. We were supposed to donate a bit back, so I sent that last year and they replied with updates saying they had doubled in size, so I would like to go back and see everyone. I would also like to volunteer in Kenya and just do as much as I can before I have to work.

Would you recommend your course to others?

Yeah — definitely. If you can commit and do the work it’s going to get you where you need to be in your career. As long as you’re interested in the course then you’re going to do well. If not, your motivation will drop through the floor, especially with the amount of work you need to do. I think it’s misjudged how difficult university is. With everyone supposedly coming out with a 2:1, it’s a bigger achievement than people make it out to be.

Stopford Library
Stopford Library

What is your favourite thing to do in Manchester?

I’m big into gigs. I don’t think many musical acts miss out on Manchester because it’s a big city. For some reason, I don’t seem to miss out on tickets. There are so many acts, even the smaller ones come to Manchester. I was at Albert Hall two days in a row for Birdie and Bear’s Den; they were really good. The music scene is great here!

Of course, there’s always the classic Wonderwall at the end of a club night. My younger brother has just turned 18 and him and his friends do the same thing. You think two years between you is a lot, but it’s not.

What’s your favourite music venue?

I haven’t been to the O2 Apollo, but I will be there for Bear’s Den again in March. I do like Albert Hall. It’s a traditional venue in a nice location, the drinks are decent and the building is great.

Where is your favourite place on campus?

It’s probably a bit sad to say, but Stopford Library — it is quite underrated. It’s all new and modern whereas the old library is nice and traditional, but sometimes just gets a bit too much. I like the cafe too because you don’t have the pressure of being silent; you can actually have a chat.

For the three days of sunshine, I like the grass behind the Learning Commons (Alan Gilbert Learning Commons). It was early October and I was sat there having lunch just thinking about the three months of rain ahead. The contrast in buildings in that area is quite nice to see — there is a mix of old and new.


What advice would you give to prospective students?

You can get everything here, sports, music, drama or comedy. There is such a range of things to do — so get stuck in. Get involved with the diverse culture here: I like China Town; I really like eating there. The Thai restaurant by Upper Brook Street (Tai Pan) and the Curry Mile are both great for food. The city is so diverse.

Follow us on Instagram to see more #FBMHStories: @Fbmh_uom

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