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School of Engineering Blog

School of Engineering Blog

A blog for students, staff, alumni and friends of the School of Engineering.

Five tips to make the most of your time at Edinburgh

Claire hiking in the Scottish mountains
Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Claire, fourth year, BEng (Hons) Chemical Engineering

This summer, I will be (hopefully) graduating with a BEng (Hons) Chemical Engineering after four amazing years! Having moved a long way from home in Malaysia to pursue this degree, it was a tough but rewarding journey. Looking back, I have learnt so much from my time at the University of Edinburgh and am very grateful for all the memories I have made.

Many of you might be wondering what life is like as a chemical engineering student especially as an international student like me. No worries, I am here to give an insight into what’s to come and some tips on being abroad!

Take advantage of your surroundings

Studying in Edinburgh is such an amazing experience, the city has a lot to offer, and it is definitely a sight for sore eyes. From the beautiful views up on Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill, to short excursions to the seaside at Cramond and the waterfront at Leith, to the lovely cherry blossoms along the Meadows in April, there is always something to see or do.

Being a student, things can get very overwhelming at times especially with the workload alongside other activities and maybe even homesickness. My advice is to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and go on walks and hikes when you can. It may not seem like much but taking time out to de-stress and getting some fresh air is never a bad idea!

Find your circle

Making new friends in a new environment is never easy, but being at university also means there are many others who are just like you! A great way to make friends is through clubs and societies. For me, I remember the Edinburgh Malaysians Student Association (EMSA) holding a meet-and-greet for the freshers and I’ve met so many other students from Malaysia through this society.

Within my course, the large amount of group projects provided a great avenue for me to meet other students doing the same degree and allowed us to foster good friendships while helping each other with assignments and classes.

Finding a good circle of friends within your degree and the wider University is essential in helping you enjoy your university years and to get through the days, especially the hard ones.

Embrace the learning curve

Chemical engineering has been known to be a tough course, but it is a very interesting discipline indeed. The variety of applications of chemical engineering knowledge in various industries is what got me interested to study chemical engineering in the first place!

In my honours years, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the assignments which were a slight introduction to some of the real-life projects that a chemical engineer might work on.

For example,  I worked on designing a distillation column and a shell and tube heat exchanger using shortcut calculation methods, followed by optimisation of those units using some engineering software and participated in a HAZOP (Hazard and Operability Studies) discussion as part of an assignment related to process safety.

As challenging as it sounds, it was very rewarding to be able to complete it and to do well in it!

Seek support when you need it

It’s never a bad idea to seek out help during hard times.  I’d have to thank all my lecturers and tutors who have done an amazing job in helping me with all the courses. Alongside support in the teaching materials, there is a lot of support provided in other areas such as career development and even mental wellbeing.

As a student, I would say immerse yourself well within your degree and with the people in it.

Seize opportunities

If you embrace the experience, make connections with others, and ask for help when you need it – you’ll be surprised at the many opportunities that might come. My university highlight would be the time where I represented the chemical engineering department under the supervision of one of my lecturers, at with an exhibition where we presented our poster on the benefits of catalytic converters to the general public. The exhibition was held at Dynamic Earth, the local science centre, to tie in with COP26.

From my time at the university, the saying “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” resonates well with my outlook on my experience. I’m glad I managed to have such a good experience.

Hopefully, my little piece helps you get excited for your next phase! All the best!

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