by Niambi Bertie-McLean
On the 16th of July 2019, I had the opportunity to visit the University of Leeds for their Biological Sciences Summer School where I spent two days exploring the city, roaming the campus, attending lectures and conducting experiments.
Day one was focused on meeting students and organisers and engaging in sessions ranging from student finance to how to acclimatise to life at University. We undertook mini-lectures, similar to what a first-year student would attend, on a variety of topics including Psychopharmacology, followed by a practical assessment. The lectures were tailored towards our potential field of study and provided the theory which we then applied to a clinical setting.
Following that session, we conducted experiments aimed at deriving the optimum concentration of a named drug to cause contractions in a piece of rat ileum tissue. This was an amazing experience as I had the chance to use highly accurate equipment and produce results that could have real-life implications. The day was rounded off with a social activity where we competed against students at tenpin bowling.
The students were helpful and quick to offer support, as well as provide advice on the ups and downs of University life, and particularly on the daunting transition between Sixth Form, or college, to University. The conversations that I had were extremely useful and helped straighten out common misconceptions, such as how to balance money, joining clubs and societies and independent learning.
The second day was more intense and finely honed, focusing on completing our experiments from the day before. And later compiling our data and assembling our findings to work on our presentations, which we presented to the group and professors, allowing us to receive valuable feedback.
The University went above and beyond my expectations by giving all potential students the chance to explore the city and to really get a feel for University life. This was especially highlighted through talking to current undergraduates, experiencing dormitory accommodation and eating at the University's large Refectory, which had food inspired by different parts of the world. This was a great opportunity and gave a clear insight into whether I could spend the next few years of my life here!
I would definitely recommend this summer school to all potential students. Not only because you get an accurate insight into the course structure, teaching styles, and assessment types but also because it is designed to be fun, practical and constructive. Which I greatly attest to!
I truly enjoyed the overall exposure to the University of Leeds and the exciting glimpse into the many learning opportunities and social community hubs that made me feel at home.