First Thoughts of University


Neel Vyas, University of Leeds, MBChB Medicine

My first term at Leeds has been amazing! I have settled in well into my new accommodation and I feel more independent as the weeks have passed. I have picked up more life skills, for instance learning how to cook a larger variety of foods, which has been very useful! Also, I have met so many people both on and off my course, and I hope to continue to meet more people on my journey through university. As part of university life, I have joined several societies including badminton, cricket and tennis. This helps maintain my active lifestyle and continue 

the sports I did back at home. Also, I wanted to try new things, for example I’ve joined Wilderness society, which involves going camping and hiking in places like the Yorkshire Dales, which in the winter cold is a harder task than it sounds.

My course, Medicine, has been very challenging with long contact hours in university and several lectures. Although the long hours spent studying in the library, I have really enjoyed the course in learning the different aspects of Medicine from anatomy and dissection to psychology and sociology lectures. In particular, I enjoy going to placement in the hospital, it really makes me feel I’m pursuing a career in becoming a doctor. I’ve joined societies in the medical school, for example I’m the Pre-clinical representative for the Leeds Cutting Edge Surgical Society. This has given me the opportunity to experience what surgery is like. For instance, just before the Christmas break, I got the chance to go into theatre and observe Neurosurgery, which was really exciting, and this gave me the chance to see if surgery a speciality for me.

Outside the studying and the lectures, we have several group projects which we create presentations and present them to the staff in the department. The picture on the left, shows me and another medical student working on an acting project on delivering bad news. It was really fun, designing the role play as its not something I did in collage often. Following the presentation, I felt more confident in talking in front of an audience.

Now, reaching the end of my first term, reflecting back on my journey of transition from college to university has been smooth with many exciting moments and meeting incredible people. I would definitely recommend to anyone thinking of going to university as a definite option to consider as its not only developing your knowledge in a specific area of your course, but also university life improves your life skills and makes you a more independent person. Although I am only in my first term of university, I am incredibly excited for the next five years through medical school.

Returning back home to Manchester, I can now relax, catch up with friends from back home and look forward to the Christmas break, until I return in January to go again for the next term.


Andrew Harrison, Manchester Metropolitan University, LLB in Law. 

My first term at uni has gone really well and I have settled in nicely. After the first week I formed a nice group of friends on my course, which helped the process of easing in to uni life much easier. A process I was quite nervous about and apprehended to be more difficult with not living in halls at uni, however that wasn’t the case. I have got involved in new things during my first term at uni trying new sports such as Aussie Rules and joining a 6 weeks golf course, making new friends along the way, getting involved in multiple areas of uni life. 

In regard to my course, I have really enjoyed the first few months of my law degree. With work coming thick and fast I have already submitted my first coursework portfolio for public law, with more due the first week after the Christmas break. All areas so far have been very interesting, a stand out moment so far was our court visit in October. 

Going to the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester and sitting in a few cases was very helpful in getting an insight into law in practise, and how courts work and the process of cases. This was good to see the sort of work that legal representatives perform and what I could be potentially aiming to be doing in a few years’ time. This month I had to undergo my own case as a moot as part of my Tort Law coursework, my court visit was very helpful in helping me pick tips such as court etiquette etc to help in my scenario. This was really fun and a new way of learning for me and putting that into practice. Something I hope to be doing a lot more of in the future at uni.  

Following on from mooting and court visits this enabled me to build some networks, when some companies came into university. After making a few contacts I attended some talks in Manchester about the growing area of legal tech and learning about different types of law and the way the industry is changing in the future. Whilst attending these talks through uni, I was able to build some networks and am looking to do some advocacy work experience with a criminal HRA at Chester Crown Court after new year.

At Manchester Metropolitan I have also joined a first generation scheme where there is a joint mentoring scheme. I gain the benefit of having a mentor throughout my first year at uni from one of the lecturers. Therefore, giving me more of a one to one experience helping me with settling into this new experience even more. As a result I also now get to give advice and guidance to fellow student in year 13 who will be considering if university will be for them net year. Letting them know what the experience is like and helping them ease in next year as a peer mentor; similarly to what I will hopefully be doing for future DCET Scholars.

My time at university has been an amazing start and I look forward to it continuing to get even better with the opportunities for more practical law and real-life experience after Christmas.


Nirali Vyas,  University of Leeds, Medicine

My life at university began when I got my university ID card – I was official a student at the University of Leeds. After having sorted out all the paper work and set up my room, me and my family went for our last family meal together – for a while anyway. After some emotional goodbyes, my mum began her journey back to Manchester as I walked to my room for the first time an independent adult. I remember meeting my flat mates for the first time; we all sat in the kitchen and had the general small talk about where we’re from and what we’re studying. Once the initial awkwardness passed everybody bonded and we realised how much we all had in common. The first 2 weeks mainly involved introductory lectures and many many fresher events. After having survived 2 weeks of fresher’s week, it was time to settle down and start my studies.

University life was much different to the school life I was used to as I had to be very self-motivated to work. Luckily, I am enjoying my course and although its challenging, its everything and more then what I expected. I enjoy the different aspects taught in Medicine. Not only do we learn the science of the human body, but we learn about ethics, communication and self-reflection which all contributes to being a well-rounded doctor. We also learn about the importance of research as this is a big aspect in the ever-evolving career of medicine.

On top of my studies, I feel I have grown up and become a lot more independent in the past few months. From cooking my own meals to doing my own laundry I feel I am much more in control of my own life. In terms of time management, dealing with both the academic side and the practical side of living by myself has been difficult and is something I am still working on. Luckily, Leeds not being to far, my mum does visit me with a few Tupperware’s of meals every few weeks!

Now I am in medical school I would like to start to explore opportunities that will help me after graduating for example looking into research opportunities and also thinking about certain specialities I may want to consider. Paediatrics is something I am currently very interested in and the university has provided a great volunteering opportunity this summer to work with children in Fiji which I am hoping to participate in. It involves working in schools, teaching children basic maths and English. This will help me experience working with children to see if paediatrics is something I want to do in the future.

Over all my first term of university has been amazing. I have met great people and made great memories already and I’m excited for the next 5 years studying here in Leeds.


Sadia Sheeraz, London School of Economics, BSc in Social Policy with Government. 

At a family function, days before I left Manchester and moved to London for the LSE, an aunt said something to me. She explained that when “people like us” had moved away in the past, the first two months would determine the rest of their lives. She pointed to a few within the family who had dropped out of university within the first term and never returned to education. I didn’t think too much of it, having heard almost everything the naysayers could have said and being in the habit of dismissing anything spoken in a discouraging tone. But now that I think back to her words, the irony of it strikes me. In an attempt to make me reconsider, she said something far more relevant and encouraging to me than she had realised. 

This term has been one of the hardest times of my life. Never have I felt as unsuitable or misplaced as I have in rooms with potential employers from the likes of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Never have I felt so uneducated or unaware as in seminars with the children of CEOs and (what they choose to refer to as) “old money”, whose parents had had the time and resources to invest in training them for this environment. There is no feeling like that one of inadequacy when friends sit around you and plan ski trips and holidays together. But in all honesty, there is nowhere else I would like to be. There is nowhere else people like me need to be. And all of these experiences have, if anything, strengthened my resolve.

 For me, this first term has been a term of entire life adjustments. I’ve had to learn quickly, caught in a constant game of catch-up. But I have learned. I have learned how to hold conversations, ask meaningful questions and introduce myself to people who otherwise would never come into contact with a person with the same background as me. I have learned how to put my hand up first in seminars and start debates, and I have learned to sit comfortably in my sweatshirt and trainers around suit jackets and shirts. I have learned that budgeting and living within my own means, and not the means of my parents, is a skill others may never know and it’s something to be proud of. The skills I have learned, coming from where I have, being through what I have, are all so rare in these circles. And I’m very ready to utilise them, ready to make my past help towards my future.

A lot of things have changed. A lot of this experience has been hard. Getting my first grades back, having some of the worst results in the class in my first ever essay, was difficult to stomach. One of the most difficult things to adapt to is realising that your state school education, including the five years spent in one of the worst high schools in the region, has not prepared you for this. In underfunded, overly strained schools with students from all over the world and with every kind of living circumstance, the best that the school can hope to provide for you is the grades you need to make it to this stage. Having only ever studied for a grade, you were never taught to be curious, to be invested, to go out of your way in seeking knowledge. But this term is about learning, and I am still learning.

 There is a freedom in having come from virtually nothing - it means that all that you achieve will definitely mean something. If this first term has indeed defined the rest of my life, I’m left only with exciting prospects. I cannot wait to carry on. Next term, I commit myself to put what I have learnt into my actions. I hope to see myself in even more important rooms, with even more important people. I hope to see my grades rise, as I begin to understand what it takes to grow into an academic. I hope to seize even more opportunities, stir up more debate, and who knows? Maybe I’ll plan a ski trip, too!


Hiba Hussain, University of Manchester, MBChB Medicine 

The first semester of University has been very eye opening. The feeling is phenomenal when I think back to myself one year ago, questioning my capabilities and ideas, and now at university I am experiencing such a privileged journey that was once beyond my wildest dreams.  

Upon starting, our training began promptly. First year study is largely bioscience based, but there is a common misconception there is not much else to it. Our work on a weekly basis comprises of contributions from ethics, law, Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and statistics, and clinical skills. The combination of all of these is what allows a clinician to pick up on every single detail and achieve a profound understanding of each case.  

In this semester alone I have had two opportunities to visit a GP and one to visit a hospital. The purpose of this was to familiarise ourselves with that environment and also to practise some of the communication skills we had been learning at university, by engaging in brief interactions with patients and gathering information about their visit. The placements were so enjoyable and have educated me on fascinating little details that I could not have learned otherwise.  

As an example: I visited a ward at the hospital and encountered a patient who had cancer. The patient, who I will refer to as patient X, was in the early stages when they were diagnosed and for this reason they were able to have the cancerous tumour removed a couple of days prior to my visit. Patient X was diagnosed after a visit to the GP, which they had scheduled to discuss stress and how they thought it was beginning to impact their physical health. I found it astonishing to learn how a visit regarding this small concern lead to the diagnosis of their cancer.  

Apart from the slight discomfort and pain, patient X was happy, lively and contented. They described their experience at the hospital positively, and told us that they spent a lot of time watching movies on their iPad. This was lovely to see and truly taught me something - a patient is not defined by their disease or illness. There are many misconceptions and stereotypes attached with many illnesses such as the one encountered. Often we hear of people having suffered from cancer and begin to feel sympathy and think of the detrimental effects they are likely to be going through. While this is not wrong, it was a pleasant surprise to see that this is not always the case. I was sure from talking to them, that despite the diagnosis, cancer was not the constant and persistent thought on patient X's mind. The effect of an illness on a patient's life exists but does not always prevail.

Small realisations like these only occur when a first-hand visit is undertaken and no amount of theory can compensate for the importance of clinical experience. I thank the Dick Camplain Education Trust for playing such a substantial role in my pathway to university and enabling me to become a person so much more developed than the one-year-ago me; someone who recognises these small but complex details and has the opportunity to participate in events that allow this. Now that I have settled in, my aim is to take out more time for my hobbies and pursue them alongside my studies.


Sahar Sayyed, University of Manchester, Psychology

I have been lucky enough to have received a lot of support throughout my education, whether it be encouragement from teachers or the opportunities that high school and college made available to me. I may not have gone to the best high school, but I had some amazing teachers who first opened my eyes to the all the things that I could achieve. Getting into Loreto college was a huge achievement in itself and allowed me to further expand my ambitions and start my journey into higher education. And now, here I am studying Psychology at the University of Manchester.

So far, this first semester has been a whirlwind of beautiful chaos and exploration. It’s safe to say that I think I have finally found my footing and got the hang of university life and I am enjoying the whole experience. Well maybe not all the deadlines, but it’s all part of the process! 

The Dick Camplin Scholarship has been a blessing in disguise for me as it not only provided me with financial aid to buy necessities, but it has also given me the inspiration and confidence to be the greatest I can be. It has made me realise that no matter what your background is, there is nothing holding you back from reaching your maximum potential, which the previous DCET scholars stand testament to. So for that I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to David and the DCET network.

In my first few weeks at University, I have become a student ambassador. I hope to use this role to help inspire other young people like me to be determined and motivated enough to see your goals through to the end and make use of all the opportunities that lay available to us. If I can guide others to see that university can be an option for them too, then I can be content knowing that I have made a contribution to the world. I am also considering to study abroad or complete a placement year, but we shall see what the future holds.

My favourite module up until now has been Developmental Psychology. I think it is fascinating to learn about how we have come to understand the world around us since birth and I look forward to taking more modules. For now, I am keeping my options open, but I would love to go on and do some research in the Psychology field in the future. Here’s to another few years of opportunities, commitment and growth.

Hannah Ainsworth

I’m Hannah Ainsworth, I faced a lot of difficult challenges throughout my time in education at home and in school often facing bullying with regards to being underweight. Despite all the problems I faced at home and in school with my bad anxiety I managed to get help from my school  teachers to pass all my GCSEs coming out with Bs and Cs. This then led me to Loreto sixth form college where I was supported along my college journey till the end of my two year course by my subject teachers and head of hall. At the end of my college course where I received three A levels I was granted the DCET scholarship offering more financial, emotional and physical support for me to continue my education at university to satisfy my dream of becoming a qualified accountant one day