I completed my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Nottingham, and then I briefly worked as a technician in a hospital lab before I got an offer at Leicester. The change from undergraduate studies was quite a surprise and needed a lot of personal adjustment. However, I have always been a driven student, and have found that the change suits me well, as the work is individual and allows you to be independent. I study the genetic mechanisms involved in the dissemination of genes coding for antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. After being introduced into the field of microbial genetics in a third year module during my undergrad, I was immediately taken by the topic, and went on to get a first. With some encouragement from my tutor, the next obvious choice was to pursue this further with a post-graduate qualification.
I was lucky enough to visit Leicester before my application and spent a few weeks in the lab doing shadowing work before making the decision to apply, but by then I was already very excited about the prospect of studying here. I had already been accepted to do an MSc at the University of West England in Biomedical Sciences but I withdrew my place and decided to come to Leicester instead. The course has been quite challenging so far, but also fair, and I've had a really thorough introduction into what the world of research is like and what is expected of you. The facilities are what you would expect for a good English university. Any shortages of equipment can usually be circumvented by booking time slots in advance. I don't normally have a problem accessing machines, as long as I am organised and set realistic deadlines.
My department and lecturers have been very friendly and supportive, and always on hand to offer advice. I’ve found most of the lecturers quite approachable and understanding. The department has offered a lot of advice and the members all try to be helpful. The University is a small but rapidly upwardly-moving university with a great rating for many departments. In addition, it is great for student life, with the developments in the Students' Union and its conversion into an O2 Academy. It is a friendly, welcoming university that still endeavours to meet the high standards required in today's job market. The university has a great postgraduate department, so there is a good atmosphere of determination, commitment and support. In addition, there are many student societies to join, and I have been able to become involved in the choral society, becoming Vice-President last year.
With the impressive looking David Wilson Library, studying is always a pleasant experience. If you want to take a break for food, the excellent restaurants and facilities at the Charles Wilson Building cater for almost everyone. When this is combined with the thriving buzz at the newly finished Students' Union, including a refurbished gym and Starbucks, the campus is a social focal point for all the students. The best thing about the campus has to be the newly refurbished SU and the accompanying businesses that have set up branches there. It's a really comfortable and nice place to hang out.
In the first few weeks I was excited about discovering Leicester, so I tried to explore everything the town had to offer, and attended as many workshops as possible. I went to many social events within my department and also for choir, with which I eventually became more heavily involved. The city is a great multicultural place to be, with many exciting events happening. I like the shopping in Leicester, as the Highcross offers a wide range of good high street shops, whilst the Market is brilliant for fresh fruit and veg, which are not only varied and of a good quality, but also saves a few pennies for us students!
I normally go out at local restaurants, as there is a wide selection of cuisine from many different countries, thanks to Leicester's multiculturalism. The Phoenix cinema is also great for catching independent films that are not often shown elsewhere. I have been surprised that the city has such a positive approach to arts and culture, having great plays at the Curve, putting on major events like the annual Comedy Festival, whilst also being down to earth and having one of the best local markets in the area. It goes without saying that the harmony between the wide ranging cultures is also refreshing compared to other English towns.
I am a current member of the Choral Society and my time as Vice-President has just come to an end. I was involved in arranging a number of concerts, including designing the posters and arranging for soloists or other session musicians. This has been a great opportunity for me to learn about what it takes to get a society efficiently running, as well as meeting some prominent musicians and singers in the country, mainly thanks to the Music Associations links with the Philharmonia Orchestra, which has proved very beneficial. I've also played badminton in the sports hall a few times. The Charles Wilson Sports Hall is quite large and spacious, and the equipment is of a good condition.
I live in a privately rented flat which took some months to arrange, but I was able to take my time, as I had some temporary accommodation available. Managing my finances has been tight, but I have had support from my supervisor and others in the department. I have had a part-time job whilst studying and it has sometimes been a bit of a challenge to juggle everything, but it can feel very rewarding.
When I finish my studies at Leicester I hope to continue in research as a post-doc. I always had hopes to work in research, but I was unsure about whether this would be possible until I came to Leicester. The university has given me an opportunity to do some things I always wanted to do.
Overall it's been a great experience being properly introduced into the world of research and meeting many people who are currently working in the latest research. There were many new students starting at the same time as me and many people were friendly and sensitive during my initial few weeks
My one piece of advice to new students would be don't be afraid to try new things! Leicester has a lot to offer, and I didn’t even think I liked curry before coming here, but now I like to make it at home all the time!