Before going to the university
This is not an initial success story which you have probably seen in most of the posts and stories available on this site. I initially came to the University of Glasgow because I did not meet the grade requirement for another university in London, which I resented initially. Looking back at it now, I felt that it was a blessing in disguise, I have never been happier than I am right now. I would never trade the experience and opportunities that were given here over anything else.
I started making new friends, socialising with my colleagues over here, joined the swimming team and studied as hard as I could. Pro tip: If you are a semi-competitive/ competitive sportsman back home (in Malaysia), you should definitely join the sports team, but even if you are just curious, you should go for it and see. I was travelling all over the UK for swimming competitions and the trips were free! Besides that, I have also started volunteering in teaching Mandarin for charity (as the demand for learning Mandarin is higher than learning Malay) and tutor my colleagues who needed help.
Personal experience and journey
I started my study here as a BSc in Biochemistry, in the first two years of your undergraduate you have the opportunity to sign up for a lot more optional lectures. I have taken all the mandatory biology classes and optional classes in chemistry as well as the German language. Fast forward to the summer of my 2nd year, the School of Chemistry took an interest in my performance and offered me MSci in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. I thought it was a good opportunity and took up the offer. Part of the MSci program I was enrolled in gave me an opportunity to either work in academia or industry for a year. Midway through my 3rd year, I was applying to mainly pharmaceutical companies as the degree I chose was closely related to organic chemistry. I had multiple interviews; however, I have received no offer as I “did not have the quality required to work in the industry” so I was told. Then, I decided to take a 180-degree turn and applied to university. I chose to go to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and worked in renewable energy (again, not what I intended in the first place).
Intrigued by the research I was doing, I requested to switch my degree program, to MSci in Chemistry and I continued with my final year working under a professor at the University of Glasgow. A couple of months before graduating, I was approached by my professor and he offered me a scholarship to study for my Ph.D. in his group. I was grateful that he believed in me and I was interested in the research proposal that we came up with together and continued my postgraduate study here. I am currently a third-year Ph.D. student in chemistry at the University of Glasgow, never have I imagined that I would end up here pursuing further education.
My experience in Glasgow, Scotland was and still is amazing. I was fortunate enough to have people who believed in me, including my parents, friends and staff at the university. The people here are friendly and open-minded, the saying ‘People Make Glasgow’ is as true as it gets because let’s be honest, besides the beautiful architecture and scenery, you will only get two weeks of good weather if you are lucky.
I suppose besides informing the reader about my experience at the University of Glasgow, it also serves as a reminder to myself and to those of you who have yet to decide on where you will be going that it is OK to have hiccups along the way, do not give up and things will be better eventually.