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What's it like at Warwick Uni? Mai-Linh Nguyen - Biomedical Science

Published August 2014

What’s it like to study Biomedical Sciences at the University of Warwick? Second year student Mai-Linh explains all, sharing her tips for managing challenging workloads and using a varied university experience to meet lots of different people.

Mai-Linh and friends

Name: Mai-Linh Nguyen
Degree: Biomedical Science (Hons) BSc
Home town: Nottingham
A-levels studied: Biology, Chemistry, Psychology A-levels. History AS and the Extended Project

Where were you before you came to Warwick?

I attended a state school called the Bluecoat Academy.

How long have you been at Warwick?

Two years

How did you apply to Warwick?

I applied to Warwick via UCAS and made it my first choice after visiting campus. It was a toss-up between Durham, Sheffield and Warwick as they all required AAB. After visiting Sheffield I decided that a city university was not for me. Warwick was preferable Durham because I much preferred both the environment and the course, it had a lovely atmosphere and I felt like somewhere that could become my ‘second home away from home’.

What’s it like to study at Warwick?

Incredible! The School of Life Sciences is fantastic and I feel so privileged to have such easy access to the most brilliant minds in the country. The academics are so dedicated and inspiring, I feel like they genuinely care about our progress and I was surprised at how happy they were to offer their help and support. Throughout my two years studying here so far, I have been challenged and pushed to achieve my best. As a result of this, I improved in many areas, in particular scientific writing and presentation skills.

Throughout my two years studying here so far, I have been challenged and pushed to achieve my best

What was it like going from studying at A-level to studying for a degree?

I felt like there was a big jump in terms of both expectation and workload. University is a lot different to A-levels; as you progress through it, there is a stronger push away from just learning the material towards really understanding the concepts and independently making connections between different topics. This sounds really scary at first but I have managed it with the support of the academic staff within the department. I’ve found that while they do have high expectations of us, they also recognise that we are not all used to this level of learning. As long as you demonstrate that you are genuinely willing to learn, you will not be turned away if you need help.

Why Warwick?

At first I applied to Warwick based on its really good reputation, I hadn’t visited when I submitted my UCAS application. After attending the post-offer open day I was completely won over. As cliché as it sounds I fell in love with the campus. It had a really friendly and welcoming vibe to it and I liked that it also encompassed aspects of a city too. As someone who was petrified of moving away from home, the environment of the university was very important to me, I wanted to go somewhere I felt like I could fit in and adopt as my second home.


Mai-Linh and friendsWhat have you found most challenging?

The thing I have found most challenging is adapting to the new way of studying. At times it has been hard to get to grips with the independent nature of university study and even towards the end of my second year I’ve been finding ways to improve my methods of learning. However I feel that it has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I have acquired and developed so many skills that will be applicable to any job I take on in the future.

What were your favourite memories of the past year?

This is such a hard question! I started off the year on a high. Before the start of term, we undertook our Duke of Edinburgh Gold qualifying expedition in the Lake District; the weather was beautiful all week and we had so much fun (despite the exhaustion and very wet feet). I formed so many awesome friendships during the expeditions that were strengthened throughout the rest of the year. Following from this, the Duke of Edinburgh Snowdonia weekend away was a fantastic experience and a welcomed break from work at the end of the second term; instead of tackling the mountain of work we had, we climbed Mount Snowdon! At my other favourite society, I’ve had great memories with Inspire and TeachFirst. The school sessions we did this year were incredible because it really felt like we were making a difference. A lot of the kids had misconceptions about university which made them believe degree-level study was inaccessible to them. It was great answering their questions and helping them see that the opportunity is completely open to them.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this year?

The most interesting thing I’ve learnt is that I am actually really interested in the topic of virology. We had a relatively small amount of exposure to this topic prior to this year and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the Virology module but it quickly became one of my favourite modules. This was partially down to the lecturers that taught it, they were super engaging and interesting and I am now planning to pursue the third year medical virology module.

I didn’t think I could ever find people like my 6th form friends again. I was definitely right, I met a completely different bunch of awesome people at university!

Any low points?

In my first year, I was in a flat with people that I didn’t quite gel with. This was quite sad at first but it wasn’t an issue for very long. Once things started picking up in terms of my course and society events, I met loads of new people. University is huge and full of a myriad of different of people. You will always meet people that you don’t quite get along with, but as long as you are proactive about making friends, you will definitely bump into some like-minded people.

What do you plan to do once you’ve completed your degree?

I am still quite unsure about what I want to do after my degree so the current plan is further study! I will be applying to the MBio with the School of Life Sciences at Warwick and see where that takes me.

What do you do when you’re not studying?

I have really enjoyed getting involved with the Duke of Edinburgh and Inspire & TeachFirst societies and I will be on the exec for both next year. I discovered that I really enjoy walking in the countryside after completing both my practice and qualifying expeditions with the Duke of Edinburgh society last year. I will be attending these expeditions again this year with the supervision team.

Inspire has been a big part of my non-academic life at university. I became heavily involved in the scheme last year and was elected as this year’s Fundraising Leader. Next year I will be taking on the role of Vice President and I am excited about continuing the improvement and growth of the society. In addition, I really enjoy taking part in sports at university. In my first year I tried my hand at archery and this year I’ve taken part in weekly training sessions with aikido as well as a few visits to sensei’s dojo in Birmingham. I think my non-academic experiences really show that university is a place where you can get involved in new things at any level.


Mai-Linh and friendsWho have you met whilst you’re here?

Firstly, I have met so many new friends here. Before coming to university, I had so many strong friendships with people at 6th form and I didn’t think I could ever find people like them again. I was definitely right, I did not meet people like my existing best friends but I met a bunch of equally as awesome people at university. My group of course friends are amazing, we all share the same work ethic and geeky sense of humour. It’s great to have a set of best friends who are on your course; we have all kept each other going through the times when our course has gotten a bit tough. Similarly, I have also made really good friends with my housemates, despite the fact that I am the only girl in a house with 5 other boys; it has worked out so well. We were initially a housing group formed out of convenience but we all instantly got along. It’s always nice to come home from a long day at uni and wind down with a relaxed film night with them.

In addition to my friends, I have made many connections with the academics within my department. My personal tutor is fantastic, whenever I’ve been a bit stressed or totally stuck on a certain topic, he has been incredibly helpful. Similarly, I am also on really good terms with another one of the academics within my department. He ran our first year biochemistry labs and after popping into his office a few times to ask questions about the labs, he became another friendly face within the department. This year he didn’t really run any of our lectures but I often go to him when I am stuck with something; he has helped me with a few of my practice essays. I’ve even popped into his office with birthday cake!

What’s your favourite spot on campus?

The lovely lake at the bottom of the path to Gibbet Hill. I have enjoyed many walks around that area and have spent relaxing afternoons on the benches in the beautiful sunshine just watching the ducks with my boyfriend.