What it is like to be a Durham student

08 January 2021
Durham University student Jia Lin in biology lab

Jia Lin from Malaysia studied International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering at Durham University International Study Centre. She progressed to BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences. Here, she tells us about her experiences of the International Study Centre, her degree programme, and her hopes for the future.

My time at Durham University so far has been very nurturing and enriching. What stood out in this experience was the defining collegiate system in Durham; a sense of close-knit community eased away all the unsettling agitation of incoming freshers, including me. The College community provides a communal space for all students to connect, engage, develop and challenge learning outside of your academic course. The tremendous endeavor and interests vested in us for our professional and personal development are vast. Each student is assigned to a college mentor and the College regularly holds talks for career opportunities to prepare students into their future.

My biggest reward from Hatfield College was making lifelong friendships, wearing gowns to attend ‘formals’ of various exciting themes, and the fantastic opportunity to engage with international students and learning about their unique culture. As a current third year and thinking back to first year, I will always have an enduring fondness of living in Hatfield College and all the fun memories with my close friends and corridor mates. Some of my enduring memories are dressing up together for Halloween, formals, the Lion in Winter Ball, night outs and lots of celebrations (birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, end of term, end of exams).

Jia Lin at her progression ceremony before joining Durham University

Being a biosciences student at Durham can be intimidating, but it is also rewarding. The course structure is not limited to a specific bioscience field; the concept ranges from the intersections of ecology, to molecular genetics, to biochemistry and data analysis. The many experts within the department are my strongest pillar of support throughout my academic life. The generosity provided in these difficult and unprecedented Covid-19 times by academic staff is very thoughtful and reassuring.

As a current third year student, there have been some interesting and fun highlights on my course. Some of the key highlights over the years include hands-on lab experiments, fieldwork and definitely some good humour in lectures from time to time! There is a big emphasis on research-led and solution-oriented work that required critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills, and each of us have successfully mastered these skills in the first two years of our degree. Each academic year is a transient stage on to the next path and ultimately it leads to your career after graduation. During this time, your academic staff, especially your academic advisor, will be experiencing the challenges and victories alongside you, and it is really important to learn from their advice.

Last but not least – my future plan… As someone whose passion lies mainly in the industrial biotechnology sector with an emphasis on sustainability, my future plan will consist of diving deeper into this field.

Find out more about life at Durham University International Study Centre.