- Course: BSc Environmental Science (International)
- Year of graduation: 2015
Why did you choose Leeds, was it something special about the course, department or place that attracted you?
I remember driving to Leeds for the first time on the open day and distinctly remember the breathtaking sight of Parkinson Building shining in the sun at the top of Woodhouse Lane. The building's grandeur is imposing and inspirational and I knew there and then that Leeds was the place I wanted to study. As the Open Day progressed I continued to be impressed by the buzz and beauty of the campus and the brand new facilities at the School of Earth and Environment.
I found the Environmental Science pathways to be a great fit for those that are a little indecisive like myself. The course offered unparalleled scope in comparison to others that I'd considered whilst still offering enough many subjects that I was interested in. Leeds is also a very well connected university on an international level which bode well with my plans for a year abroad.
There are not enough superlatives for Leeds as a city too - it had everything I was looking for and more. I was seeking somewhere big enough to attract the biggest names in music, but compact enough to be able to reach the countryside on my bike at the weekends easily. I haven't come across a city centre like Leeds' either; every corner has a great place for socialising, whether it be a cafe, restaurant or bar, and better yet, they're nearly always full. There's so much energy in Leeds and it's infectious.
What is the best or most memorable thing about your time at Leeds, especially your course (but it can be other things)?
I have many fond memories of my Environmental Science course, but perhaps the most memorable were the field trips. We were lucky enough to visit Blencathra on two separate occasions, which is a small research centre up in the Lake District. The trips, which are part of the core Environmental Science Skills modules in Year 1 and Year 2, are designed to help students to get hands-on in environmental research. Although the days are typically long and bracingly cold out in the field the beauty of the Lake District and the company of my coursemates (not forgetting the daily homemade cake and full English breakfast) made the trips enjoyable. The fieldwork was followed by some taxing write-ups and presentations back at the centre before the bar opens upstairs. Whilst there are numerous other field trips students partake in, I feel like Blencathra enhanced both my studies and experience the most.
How has your degree, or the other activities that you were able to participate in while studying, shaped or influenced the choices that you have made since graduating?
I'd argue that extracurricular activities are equally as important as your studies. Leeds has an overwhelming amount of clubs, societies and chapters to get involved in, and you can join as many as you want. During my time I volunteered at the Union Music Library, swam for the Gryphons, wrote for the music section of the student newspaper and helped raise over £22,000 by cycling from Leeds to Berlin amongst other things.
Perhaps what shaped me most though was my year abroad, in which I went to Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The city was quaint and medieval yet chock-full of culture, the university was world-class and the location allowed me to travel at weekends to Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels amongst other cities.
Studying abroad allowed me to take on new subjects, one of which focussed on the philosophy of science and environmental ethics. This course shaped me like no other; I am now an avid philosophy reader and vegan as a result. Furthermore, the course improved my fundamental understanding of scientific methods, which showed in my writing when back in Leeds. My average grades between second year and fourth year jumped by two whole grade boundaries from my newfound knowledge. I'd strongly encourage everyone to do a year abroad.
Do you have any advice for prospective students about coming to Leeds?
I'd advise prospective students, particularly those that are lucky enough to have secured a place, would be to remember that the University of Leeds is extremely popular and that there are a lot of people hoping to go - which is no bad thing. For instance, my first choice accommodation for the first year was Henry Price (on campus self-catered halls), which I didn't get into. I was allocated Lupton, which I'd never visited or even heard of. Furthermore, the halls were dauntingly outside of the city centre in Headingley. Initially, I was slightly apprehensive, but with the benefit of hindsight, I'd never chosen anywhere else. Lutpon was great - affordable, green and extremely comfortable. Plus being out of town in Headingley, which is a terrific place to live, gave me a sense of 'going home' after lectures every day, which is a great way to mentally switch off and wind down.
Just ask yourself 'what are you waiting for?' and take the plunge. You'll have the time of your life at Leeds. It's almost guaranteed.