Kia Ora everyone, My name is Nasywa, and I am a first-year BSc majoring in Biomedical science student at the Waipapa Taumata Rau (The University of Auckland), taking the pre-med route with the initial hope of getting into clinical in my second year.
In this blog, I’d like to venture and address my expectations going into the University of Auckland, covering aspects such as Social Life, Workload expectations, How lectures/classes operate, freedom, and compare it to what it is actually like.
People say that doing Biomed leaves you with no time to socialise.
This idea will have to differ depending on what you count as socialising with friends, yet in terms of me personally, I think it’s a highly misunderstood idea held by many. What do you count as socialising? In the first couple of weeks, club expos were all over the campus, and that’s one of the common ways to meet new people with similar interests. There are heaps of uni/club events, and you can also meet new people through lectures, tutorials, and workshops. I find hanging out with friends between classes a good way to get my socialising for the day. I would also occasionally go out after campus to have dinner or hang out, which’d be my definition of social life.
My workload expectation of Biomed was quite intense. I was expecting a full-on schedule, which did not differ much from reality.
One thing to know about Biomed is that it is heavy on memorisation and understanding concepts. A big percentage of your grades relies heavily on tests and exams (theory component) rather than projects and assignments. Studying will definitely be your best friend throughout the year, and heaps of writing is not really expected. The only times you really get to use your writing skills are when it comes to group projects in papers like POPLHLTH111 or CHEM110, and possibly your general education (depending on what paper you take). But in terms of individual grades, they will mainly be determined from exams, which are not writing-heavy. This is a good factor if you’re someone who’s not very keen on English and likes studying concepts better. However, for me, it is something I find to be quite a big adjustment as NCEA focuses a lot on writing. With NCEA you are assessed on how well you communicate your understanding regarding a topic through writing. Yet, with Biomed, you just need to memorise a lot, and explaining great details of concepts is not expected as exams are either multiple choice or short answer questions.
Structure of lectures
Biomed lectures are divided into two main streams, morning and afternoon. I didn’t realise this when I was enrolling online and chose the afternoon stream, meaning my lectures don’t start until 1 pm. When enrolling, I encourage you to question whether you are a morning or afternoon person and consider how far away you live from University since commuting late in the evening can be pretty tiring.
Biomed lectures are usually one hour long, and some classes have more lectures than others. Considering that my cohort is living in a post-pandemic era, classes like CHEM110 this year only have one weekly in-person seminar and short 4-6 videos to watch individually online. While this makes it convenient for people to keep track of their progress with CHEM110, I find this class the hardest to keep up with compared to my BIOSCI107 and POPHLTH111, as self-learning can be quite challenging.
Freedom, how much more free time will we have compared to high school?
University isn’t as strict as teachers in high school paint it to be. You have your freedom as you can choose to attend a lecture in person or go over the lectures at home; it depends on how you study as a person and what ways suit you best.
Like many other students, I personally find the ‘freedom’ of university to be a hard adjustment to get used to since we don’t have teachers constantly monitoring our progress with schoolwork anymore like how it was in High School, which means that you have to find ways to keep yourself motivated.
To conclude, first-year Biomed is busy, but at the same time, it’s hard to believe that I’m already in the last week of the semester. Looking back at the past 12 weeks, I do feel like university has taught me heaps of things, not just about academics, but how to manage life around it like better time-management skills and perseverance. If you are thinking of doing Biomed in UOA, I hope this blog helps you give an insight into what to expect 🙂