Aleksandra from Poland

Name: Aleksandra Nikoniuk

Course: Biochemistry & Genetics

Why did you choose to study your course?

I chose my course at the University of Sheffield because it offered me a lot of flexibility. During first year all lectures are common for all courses in the department. So even after you’ve started if you decide to change your degree, you can easily do that. I also liked the fact that many students at Sheffield are satisfied with the course. There is also an emphasis on laboratory experience which convinced me to study here as it gives advantage when looking for laboratory-based jobs after university.

Why did you choose the University of Sheffield?

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When choosing university I considered how well each university performs in the rankings and how student friendly a given place is. Sheffield seemed perfect: great university for studying life sciences, situated in the centre of a medium-sized and green city, it is no more than a 20 minute walk from the accommodation to the campus. Sheffield also has the best Students’ Union in the UK, which offers a great variety of events that suit everyone. I enjoy living in the city, but I also see the advantages of a campus-based uni. Sheffield has the best of both worlds – a compact campus in the centre of the city.

What is your favourite thing about being at the University of Sheffield?

My favourite thing about the University of Sheffield is the Students’ Union. Before coming to Sheffield I didn’t really care about it. It is only once I came to Sheffield and started to enjoy uni life that I began to appreciate how great the Union is. It’s not only a place where you can eat, drink, wait for your lectures or party at night. It is also where you can seek help when it comes to accommodation, student finance or housing. It also organises great events, trips, language courses and other events, which you can participate in.

Do you like living in Sheffield?

Living in Sheffield is a great experience. Student accommodation, university and the city centre are all within walking distance from each other, so I don’t lose time commuting. I especially enjoy the nightlife and music scene in Sheffield. It is also a great place for outdoors activities – the Peak District National Park is somewhere where I’ll be on a sunny weekend. Everyone’s incredibly friendly, both the locals and the international community. Sheffield is a relatively cheap place to live, especially when compared to other parts of Britain.

What job do you hope to do after university?I’m hoping to get a job in either the pharmaceutical industry or the NHS. It would be great to do something with clinical genetics. Straight after university I’m hoping to get accepted on to a graduate scheme and then I will also consider studying for a Masters degree. At the university I had a chance to get some work experience through the ‘Taste of Work’ scheme, which gives students a chance to work for a day somewhere at the university. I worked in the Students’ Advice Centre which gave me a useful insight into how the place works and what everyday life in an office looks like.

What do you hope to do in the future?

In the future I would like to work in pharmaceutical industry, to be involved in drug design and production. I am also considering working in the health service, where  I hope to implement modern diagnostic techniques, hopefully in the field of genetics. I would like to work alongside other health professionals and to be involved in the future of health service.


Pop from Thailand

Name: Jidapha Fa-arun
Course: Medical Biochemistry

Hi! My name is Jidapha but you can call me Pop. I am a Level 3 student, currently studying Medical Biochemistry in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Department. I am from Thailand, but I spent my secondary education in Penang, Malaysia.

I like reading and watching movies in my own time. I also enjoy the occasional road trip and unexpected journey.

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Why did you choose to study your course? 
I chose to study Medical Biochemistry because I enjoy learning both Biology and Chemistry. I am always fascinated by the relationship between human body and medicine. Medical Biochemistry allows me to explore my interest, understand how the cell behave in sickness and health, and hence apply the knowledge to develop the treatment and medicine for the disease.
Why did you choose the University of Sheffield? 
One of the main reason why I chose University of Sheffield is because it is one of the highly respected universities within the UK. It ranks in the top 100 universities in the world with the best Students’ Union in the UK. The research facilities in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology are great, the staff in the department are experts in their field and the students here get to learn the current trend within biological science regarding what research is going on at the moment. The University of Sheffield offers world-class education with excellent learning experience and I believe that University of Sheffield is the right place for me to prepare myself for my future career.
What is your favourite thing about being at the University of Sheffield?
My favourite thing about the University of Sheffield is how much the university can offer to its students. This ranges from all the facilities to the wide variety of societies. There is a lot of help provided by the university and there are a lot of societies that students can get involved in. Whatever your interest may be, you will always find a society for it.
Moreover, all the staffs in the department are really helpful and friendly. They listen to any concerns students may have in the Staff-Student Meeting. Your personal tutor can also help you with academic-related concerns such as CV.
Do you like living in Sheffield? 
Sheffield is one of the best places that I have ever lived in. I am not a fan of very big cities so Sheffield is just the right size for me. Everything is within walking distance and everyone here is really friendly. The community is also really diverse, there are people from different continents, different countries and different backgrounds expressing their cultures and interacting with each other. The Living costs in Sheffield are relatively lower than other cities and there are lots of green spaces here as well.
What do you hope to do in the future? 
I hope to do a PhD after I graduate. I personally feel that the University of Sheffield has really develop me in various ways. I had a chance to do a research internship as part of the ThinkAhead SURE scheme which has motivated me to want to do a PhD. I realised how much I like working in the laboratory and this is something I really want to pursue in the future. I have also gained a lot of experience through different assignments ranging from essay to group work. I believe that the university would try to prepare you for the future regardless of whichever path you may choose to take. 

Jara from Spain

Name: Jara Ballestin

Course: MBiolSci Molecular Biology

Hey! My name is Jara and I am a third year Molecular Biology student in the department of MBB. I am Spanish and can also speak English and German.

I am an active person and have many other hobbies outside of University. I am Residence Life ambassador and carry out several sport activities such as leading walks in the Peak District. I’m also part of the stunt cheerleading club, where I’ve made really good friends who I now consider a big familyJ. As well as these, I enjoy scuba diving, dancing and, above all, I love traveling!

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Why did you choose to study your course?

The reason why I started a degree in Molecular Biology was because I found it a thrilling opportunity to explore the microscopic world and discover cell structures and functions, as a way of unravelling the complex relations and interactions between biological molecules. By studying the several interconnections between molecules, it is possible to infer what makes life possible. I want to become a molecular biologist in order to develop research projects not just to continue learning about how cells work, but also to manipulate them and harness their potential to create something that will be useful to human lives.

Why did you choose the University of Sheffield?
Before coming to University, I knew I wanted to improve my English and leave my home city to become more independent. I thought: ‘What can be a better way to improve my English than studying in England?’, so I held on to this idea and started searching for Biology-related degrees in Universities in the UK. I fell in love with the University of Sheffield and the variety of both academic and extracurricular opportunities available, and the Students’ Union. It is one of the best universities in the UK for student experience, and I believe this is just as important as studying a degree. For all these reasons, I finally decided to choose the University of Sheffield instead of all the others.

What is your favourite thing about being at the University of Sheffield?

It is hard to choose just one thing, as there are so many that I like. I would say my favourite thing is the internationality, it is amazing how many different nationalities you can find around the University, and I really enjoy making friends from so many different countries. Another of my favourite things is the wide range of extracurricular activities: societies, sports clubs, Give it a Go, Residence Life, and so much more -there’s always something for everyone. Lastly, within my course the laboratory practicals are definitely my favourite part.

Do you like living in Sheffield?

Sheffield is a great city to live in while being a student. Firstly, the cost of living is very cheap compared to other cities in the UK (such as accommodation costs, for instance). One of the reasons why I like Sheffield is that I love nature: in Sheffield there are lots of parks to go to as well as my favourite place to spend the day: the Peak District. It is also a great city if you are interested in culture: there are very good theatres and art galleries. Besides, there are lots of activities available, such as bowling, cinema, ice skating…


What do you hope to do in the future?

I am quite convinced that I want to work in a research lab, partly because of how much I enjoy the practical modules. Lately I have been quite interested in Synthetic Biology and I attended the Synthetic and Systems Biology Summer School in Italy this summer, where I learnt more about this topic.I do not have any degree-related work experience, so I wish to do an internship next summer. I want to develop my skills and knowledge to be able to make an impact in human lives, by applying the information obtained from biological molecules in other science fields and in real life, such as medicine, food industry or pharmacology.

Jasey from Malaysia


Name: Cheeng Wei Jia

Course: Biochemistry

Hi! My name is Wei Jia, but people call me Jacey as well.  I’m a second year Biochemistry student at the University of Sheffield and I’m from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.  I speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean.  I am also learning German at the university.

My hobbies include reading, cooking, watching movies and playing the guitar.  During the weekends, I love to go to the Peak District and have a walk there.  I also love cooking and having dinner together with my friends after walking in the Peak District.

Why did you choose to study your course?

Science has always been my favourite subject since I was young.  I discovered Biology and Chemistry at high school, and they became my favourite subjects instantly.  While doing my A-levels, I found the chemical processes in living organisms very interesting.  When I graduated from college and was deciding what degree to do, I found Biochemistry.  Not only it is the combination of my two favourite subjects, it is also the study of chemical processes in living organisms.  I began doing more research on Biochemistry, like potential jobs and course structure.  That’s when I decided this was the course that I wanted to do.

Why did you choose the University of Sheffield?


After I had decided that Biochemistry was the course I wanted to do, naturally, I started looking at universities.  A lot of universities offer Biochemistry, but with different modules.  Hence, looking at the modules each university provides was the first thing I did.  After looking at all the modules provided, I realised that the University of Sheffield provides the most basic first year modules, and first and second year students were allowed to change to another degree within the department.  I liked the flexibility and started to look more into the University of Sheffield.  The Students’ Union of The University of Sheffield has been voted best for 7 consecutive years and is known for its ‘We Are International’ campaign.  For an international student, like myself, these two things were appealing factors.

What is your favourite thing about being at the University of Sheffield?

My favourite thing about studying at the University of Sheffield is the Students’ Union.  It has an amazing students’ night out every Saturday and also holds big events from time to time.  For example, the World Food Festival and International Cultural Evening.  The Students’ Union also organises trips to places like Edinburgh and Oxford for students at a reasonable price.  I believe that attending university isn’t just about studying, it’s also about having fun and meeting new people.  The Students’ Union has done an absolutely incredible job of keeping up my expectations of the fun university life.

Do you like living in Sheffield?

I absolutely love living in Sheffield, and would never trade anything for that!  Sheffield provides the peacefulness needed for studies and the liveliness to keep life interesting.  The city is at a walkable distance from the campus.  It is full of friendly locals and students, and has almost everything you need.  Being the greenest city in the UK, the fresh air makes my walk to the lecture hall in the morning more enjoyable.  The beautiful Peak District is just a stone’s throw away.  Being a person who loves a good walk, being close to the Peak District is definitely one of my favourite things about being at the University of Sheffield.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I hope to work in either the forensic field as a forensic scientist or in the food industry as an analytical chemist.  As Biochemistry studies the fundamental principles underlying a broad field of science, the career option is believed to be quite broad.  Although I haven’t had any work experience that is directly related to my field of study, I have acquired a lot of transferrable skills throughout my course.  For example, time management skills, team work and responsibility.  If possible, I would also like to further my studies by studying for a Masters in Biochemistry.

Vasiliki From Greece

Name: Vasiliki Kolovou

Course: Medical Genetics


Why did you choose to study your course?

When I started learning about DNA and the laws of heredity in school, I hated it. Every time the teacher taught a new topic on genetics, I groaned in my head.

“Then why did you choose to study genetics in university then??” You may ask…

What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger … After pushing myself to learn the first key concepts on heredity, I realised that genetics was much more interesting than I originally thought. Turns out genetics is such a new field compared to mathematics and similar sciences that extensive research is still being done and new discoveries are quite common. That is how I became a genetics nerd…


Until graduating high school, I had been to more than 10 public talks on genetics, had taken 5 short online courses on the principles of molecular biology, had sneaked into a conference (you can’t prove anything…), had participated in the National Biology Olympiad and started writing my own blog about the importance of genetics.

So yeah, you never know.

One day you hate a subject in school and the next it’s your newfound passion.

Why did you choose the University of Sheffield?

When I was expected to choose a University, I was very strict about where I wanted to go. Although I was living in Greece and didn’t have the chance to come for an Open day, I can remember spending many hours online doing extensive research on the Universities. Sheffield University was the best and offered a great student life for internationals too!

As I was only 17 years old when I left Greece and it was my first time abroad on my own, I needed the reassurance that I will feel welcome in the University.

Can’t say I was dissapointed!

The University is exceptional in the way it celebrates all cultures and supports international students into adjusting to the new environment.

What is your favourite thing about being at the University of Sheffield?

I love how University of Sheffield is an international university (as you can probably tell by now).

I really enjoy the events the Student’s Union organises for exploring other cultures. For example, the Food Festival which was organised by the International Students Committee was a great experience. Students from different countries cooked their own “comfort foods” and traditional dishes and it was all so delicious.

Excuse me, but I’m Greek. I value the combination of good food and good company more than anything else. While at University, there was never a moment that I felt out of touch with my Greek roots. On the contrary, the plurality of cultures around me made me realize (and appreciate) how different my culture was.

When you meet people from all over the world, I think it changes you as a person. You are not as quick to judge, you lose all your inhibitions and forget all the stereotypes.

In Sheffield, you have the opportunity to meet people from a range of backgrounds and with a diversity of interests and hobbies. That is what I love about my University.

You make friends who are like you but you also make friends who are the polar opposite of you.

Apart from great education, it offers me a plethora of opportunities to explore the whole world through the people around me.

Do you like living in Sheffield?

Sheffield is a great city because it’s very close to the Peak District but also because it’s full of parks.

Some months ago, my friends came to visit from Greece and we went for a day trip in the Peaks, just a 40-minute bus ride away from where I lived. It was the perfect break from University and studying.

The city centre is full of shops and I love going food shopping in the local street markets. It’s also super easy to find a great place to eat, from pubs to restaurants with different cuisines. Malay, Indian, Greek and Italian to name but a few cuisines that you can find in the city centre.

What do you hope to do in the future?

Although I have a plan of what I’ll do after I finish my degree , I try to focus more on what I do while I am at the University. This year I want to be involved with different projects such as the SALT project and the International campaigns!

I cannot help but get excited about the year ahead of me. There are so many different sports and societies you can try ,that it seems as though I’ll need a second bachelor’s!