The end of my second year at Surrey.

Two months later, I will be working full-time at the Francis Crick Institute in London for my placement. Since I am about to embark on a new journey, I think this is a great opportunity to look back at my second year and also give you a taste of how the second year of an undergraduate student is like.

Firstly, it is undeniably true that the difficulty in academic content has increased. I heard that the seniors always say that the second year is the most challenging year at university. Indeed, there are considerably more contents to learn, and the contents are not that easy to understand. For example, in my first year as a biomedical science student, I learnt the concept of ligand-receptors and cell signalling. In the second year, we learnt how these concepts are applied in different physiological conditions (eg. in pharmacology module, we went into the details of which drug act as a ligand that targets which receptors, and how a drug acting on different receptors trigger different cell signalling pathways and hence achieving its effect/improving the patients’ symptoms.) Therefore, I would say the content in second year is more complex and it requires your ability to integrate and apply the knowledge.

However, from my point of view, the modules in second year are much more interesting than first year, because the contents are more practical and relate more to diseases. The first year modules include cell biology, microbiology, molecular biology and basic physiology, the modules give us an overview of how our body works. As compared to the second year modules (eg. analytical and clinical biochemistry, immunology, neuroscience, pathology and medicine), the modules guide us to understand the reasons and mechanisms of diseases, how we can diagnose them, and the possible and potential treatment. I personally prefer the second year content, believe it or not, I even searched for further information after lectures. It is because there are actually many unexplained phenomena in our body that are being studied and I found those researches very intriguing!  

Furthermore, the second year might be a year that challenges your time management skills. It is because there will be more mid-term tests and assignments, also, this is the year you have to apply for a placement if you are doing a sandwich degree. I had a hard time in my first semester. I woke up at 5am, started sending and replying emails to apply for placement, and revised for upcoming tests. At around 8.30am, I walked to the uni to attend 9am lectures and practicals. After lectures, I worked at Young’s kitchen (sometimes Hillside restaurant). I also went for workshops organized by the Employability and Careers Centre, for example, workshops about writing CVs and mock interviews. After that, I headed to the library to complete my assignments/reports until 7pm. I was so dead after my dinner and I went to bed. I repeated this routine for three months… Haha, I can’t imagine how I could have such determination and stamina to carry out this routine in the first semester. Sometimes, you even have to skip lectures and travel to London (or other places) for placement interviews. Hence, I would say the earlier you secure a placement, the more time you can focus on your studies, or have fun with your friends.

Apart from that, no play makes Jack a dull boy, university life is not only about studies. Thus, I tried to free up some time to have dinner with flatmates and go travelling. I had my me-time on weekends too. I countdown-ed in Edinburgh this year, the New Year celebration, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay was epic! Moreover, the Scottish highlands are unbelievably beautiful and breathtaking, I love it! The trip was a complete recharge for me after the whole first semester. Are you interested in my trip to Edinburgh? Let me tell you my travel stories in future😊

Performace in Hogmanay!
At the peak of Arthur Seat!
the city view in Edinburgh!
The epic view at Scottish Highlands!

Overall, I would say my second year is challenging, yet fruitful and satisfying. I will definitely miss my first and second year while I am on my placement. Meanwhile, I look forward to my placement year and I believe that this placement year would be another year to be filled with wonderful memories😊