Pooja Anand Gownivaripally shares her experience of life as a student in the amazingly open university environment at Newcastle University , U.K.

Studying abroad has always been my dream and a goal. This abiding aspiration is what prompted me to enroll myself on the Masters Programme in Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology at Newcastle University, U.K. Studying in a foreign country constitutes a sea change for any student from India. Newcastle University offers a wide range of undergraduate and masters level courses. However, it is the on-going extensive research facility in biology that captured my interest. I took up a one year course divided into three semesters of which the first two were completely theory-oriented and included experiments. The third semester involved research, during which we were assigned a project title. Later, we were expected to engage in extensive research work. This semester provided a comprehensive learning experience by exploring techniques used in the laboratory at an industrial level. The overall exposure to the practical applications of Biotechnology in a technologically advanced and advancing world, was a priceless asset that we gained during the programme. With the guidance of extremely supportive faculty, we gained significant expertise in doing our own research before submitting our thesis.

The overwhelming gain, however, is the experience of life as a student in an amazingly open and learning — conducive university environment. The campus is breathtaking in the beauty of the environs. The hostel facilities are good. I stayed at Richardson Road, which houses a mix of undergrad and post-grad students. The vibrant interactions are vital in shaping a student’s persona. The university organises many cultural events and attractions including exhibitions, public lectures, live music, theatre and literary events. Apart from this the people of Newcastle are friendly and they have made my one-year sojourn truly memorable. There is lot of entertainment avenues available for students and for many youngsters, including a vibrant nightlife which adds fun and excitement to a hectic student life. And when you get some free time during weekends, you can explore some of the countryside locations like Angel of North, Durham, Hexham and many surrounding areas with unparalleled natural beauty.

The weather can be unpleasant in winter with chill winds and continual rain; but that should not stop you from making the most of an once-in-a-lifetime experience!

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