Student blog: Aliyah
Aliyah speaks to us about balancing her studies with commuting, working and breeding rabbits!
Hi, my name is Aliyah and I will be going into my Fourth Year of the Medical Sciences degree at The University of Edinburgh. I am a Scottish student and have lived at home in Falkirk throughout my degree and commuted in by trains. Prior to University, I spent my high school years at Bo’ness Academy, a small state school in a close-knit community.
Coming to University
The transition to university life was exciting, if slightly daunting. I was really looking forward to meeting new people and expanding my love for science further, but, simultaneously, it was in a totally new environment where I knew nobody. I found it beneficial that there was a Facebook group chat for Medical Sciences created before we started the semester, which allowed us to communicate and become a bit familiar with other people. I do still remember Welcome Week and the events I was involved in, where I did meet some of my current friends. I would encourage people to get involved, but do not worry about meeting all your friends in those few days or being involved in every event (it is not possible!)
Academically, I do not think 1st year was a major jump up from school level as Advanced Highers/A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry really did prove useful for understanding the content delivered in lectures and tutorials. Generally, all teaching staff in lectures, labs and tutorials are friendly and willing to help if you need it.
Living at Home
I have helped at various open days and virtual events, and a worry that does always pop up is integrating with your peers if you choose to stay at home. I will honestly say that I do not feel like I have struggled in this aspect at all. Perhaps it may change depending on the type of person you are; but myself, others I know and students in younger years I have spoken to, have all said they do not feel there was a negative impact. There is always the option to stay with friends in Edinburgh, whilst not majorly disrupting your life at home and avoiding some of the financial or fending for yourself concerns. I have worked part-time in Tesco (two evenings a week) since I left school and feel like I have coped well with managing my time effectively between my studies, social life, and work life. It is just getting a balance, but it is very doable. In my spare time, I also breed and show my rabbits around the UK. Presently I have just over 30 at home, and they do keep me busy.
Studies, Societies and the City
At University I have been involved in numerous societies and projects over the years, more recently- Patient Outreach, Primary School Project and Edinburgh Stem Cell Society - the latter of which I have been an active member of the committee since Second Year. I think it is worthwhile getting involved in the organisation of a society at least once during your time at university. This year I have been elected as a committee member of the Biomedical Sciences Academic Family scheme, which aims to support First Year and direct entry students with their university experience. All new students commencing study will be in a family (small group of their peers) with two or three senior (Third/Fourth year) students. There are multiple opportunities to meet throughout the year to discuss any concerns students may have, provide some academic support, and enjoy some fun social events.
Edinburgh is a fantastic city, culture-rich with plenty to do. It was my first choice University and I do not regret my decision at all. Despite the large size of the University and student numbers, you do get to know the staff personally (and them you) as you progress throughout the years.
I have enjoyed the Medical Sciences degree; it has enabled us to experience a broad range across the different specialisms and to home in on what interests us specifically. Personally, I have liked Reproductive Biology the most and hope to carry this interest on further with my courses and dissertation in my penultimate year. In the future, I hope to be working within the healthcare field, and I am planning to apply for Medicine after the completion of this degree.