In this post, third year Development, Regeneration and Stem Cells with Management student Jinman Li highlights the different avenues of academic support available at the University to help her overcome her challenges including the personal tutoring system, university support teams and other academic activities.
My journey began in the year of 2017. In August, I graduated from my high school and held seven offers from different universities in the UK and Australia. The reason that I chose Edinburgh University was because the degree I applied for was a joint degree. That means I could study two of the main subjects that I am interested in at the same time which are biological sciences and business management. Before I arrived at the university, I transferred from China to Hong Kong, Istanbul and finally arrived at the Edinburgh airport. I felt extremely anxious but knew in this deep cultural city university, the building blocks for my future were here.
In my first year, I have experienced a serious transition in my life. In addition to the feeling of home sickness, I met some serious academic problems in my biology classes. For instance, I couldn’t understand the lecture materials, lab practical and even my own essay topic for the final project. I was so desperate and highly doubted my ability to study in the university. After the first-year final exam, my confidence felt like it was completely destroyed because I failed my resit exam for the compulsory course. However, I slowly adapted to the university-level learning by the assistance from my personal tutor, university support team and the academic activities.
In terms of the personal tutor system, it provides student academic support and it helps them achieve a successful transition in the university. After I experienced a serious academic problem, my personal tutor was very patient and kept encouraging me to achieve my goals. I felt extremely hopeful again because I was thinking that he will be super disappointed in me. After several meetings, he helped me identify several issues and gave each correspondent solutions to help me go through the transition period. One of the issues is about the language barrier, so my personal tutor enrolled me into the academic English course for international students to improve my skills on science reading and writing. Also, he lent me many bilingual biology books to help me understand the lecture contents. At the same time, he introduced me to the biological sciences support team and helped me arrange personal tutorials with the support team members.
I have attended several tutorials with the support team which helped me gain a massive amount of progress, personally and academically in the university. The professors from the support team were extremely patient and helpful and they always made sure that you could understand everything before covering the next topic. They are not only helping you adapt to the university-level learning, to achieve the university quality threshold but they also motivate you and explore your interests on the subject. So, after each tutorial, I felt so much happier and I started to believe in myself again. Moreover, the university support team also taught me how to use the technology in the classroom to improve my learning efficiency. For instance, the Media Hopper Reply is a very helpful piece of technology that the university invested in to enhance the students’ learning experience. If I didn’t understand something from my previous lecture, I could listen to the recording when I get back home and it also makes the revision process much more effective during the revision week.
For the academic activities, societies such as BioPals, they held study skills sessions to help students’ study more efficiently. For instance, I have joined the ‘how to take lecture notes’ and ‘semester lecture review session’. That helped me catch up to the university level of learning even faster as they share some essential learning techniques with students. Also, the flexible learning week motivated me to learn and helped me explore and expand my interests in biology. For instance, some activities I have joined range from the ‘Microbial Arts’ where you could draw anything on the agar plate by using bacteria and also ‘The Science Escape Room’ which helps you learn scientific knowledge in a challenging and fun environment. After joining different types of academic activities, I made so many friends with the same interests and motivation as me every day.
Overall, I am so thankful to all the people who have helped me and made me a better person. After my first-year transition, I can fully understand the lecture and find my own interests in biology. I have become more confident than before and plan to continue my study after finishing my undergrad. It was a significant transition in my life as my parents were not around to help me, so I appreciate all the help from the university to inspire me to keep learning and growing.