Chao Yu De, Zoology, international students

Chao Yu De

The Laidlaw Scholarship Programme

I am currently in the Laidlaw Scholarship Programme and this programme comprises of a research and leadership component, designed to nurture and further develop driven individuals in their fields of interest. I am currently working on a research project investigating the link between biodiversity and human health in an urban landscape. This is an opportunity I took up to experience how a research job is usually conducted and to further my interest in conservation, especially to understand the different perspectives and angles we can take to approach urban biodiversity and green spaces. 

The Laidlaw Scholarship programme is a platform that allows you to work with experts in their fields and there would be plenty of opportunities to learn from them and hear their different perspectives. The excitement does not stop there; we get to interact with fellow scholars and learn about their projects and their opinions on the matter. It is truly impressive and enlightening to be a part of this community and there is so much to learn from one another. However, it is not purely research work throughout the programme duration as the scholarship provides significant support for the development of leadership skills through various workshops and residentials. These are truly valuable opportunities to prepare ourselves better and inspire us to make or lead a positive change in the world. 

Leeds – A cosy and warm city

This is a city which has a completely different aura to it. It is a bustling city which offers a fantastic social experience but at the same time, it is so close to the natural countryside. Whenever you are tired of the vibrant energy of the city, a little dose of nature 15 minutes away from the city centre would recharge your energy. Personally, I love the buzz in the city but whenever I feel I need a recharge, there is always a park or a green space less than 10 minutes away. There is always something to do for everybody in Leeds; be it volunteering, sports, hiking, shopping or sightseeing. I play volleyball every week, volunteer whenever I have time on my weekends and volunteer with the local Leeds Hyde Park FC. Also, Leeds is very close to the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District, which are absolutely gorgeous places to visit. It is always so much you can do all the time! Everybody in the city is so friendly as well and they just make you feel so at home. No matter where you are from, there is always a place in Leeds for you.

A Global Village

Leeds is a melting pot of culture. What struck me most was the diversity available in the city, there are people of all nationalities and there is a huge diversity of cuisines in the city. I am in the Singapore Society but being Singaporean does not only limit me to this society. In fact, people of other nationalities are more than welcome to join the different societies and have a taste of different cultures. This makes the city and university very culturally diverse and whenever you feel homesick, there are always people around to look after you. It is like a little village where everybody would look out for each other and make sure you are having a good time during your studies.

Studying With A Purpose

Studying at the University of Leeds is very research-intensive and a far cry away from what I have experienced when I was schooling. The education team, professors and lecturers would always go the extra mile to push you to think about real-world applications of whatever you are learning, such as the use of Genetically-Modified (GM) food or DNA-editing technologies. They would always present the latest advances in the scientific field in lectures and encourage you to think critically about the studies and how it can be improved, or what impacts this would have on our future. As the threat of climate change looms over us, the researchers in the university are at the forefront of a scientific effort to create a sustainable future. It is all very exciting and inspiring to be part of such a community.

Great Student Support

Whenever I think of student support, many things come into mind. This is a very vague and general term. However, at the University of Leeds, they have very comprehensive coverage of student support. From housing to mental-health, they have it all covered. The Leeds University Union offers very good advice on housing contracts, especially when I was searching for a house in the following year. They provide mental-wellbeing sessions to take a break from studying too. The Faculty of Biological Sciences would also organize a variety of social events, especially the International Students Team. They would organize events such as Pancake Day, Christmas Dinners or Fish & Chips Night to help international students settle into the UK better. They would use these events to talk a bit more about British culture and this is also an opportunity to meet people from all over the world in the faculty. The university also has an outstanding Careers Centre that helps with professional development for undergraduates, so that you would have a direction to work towards during your time in the university. This can be very basic help like figuring out potential career pathways to work towards or getting my CV checked. They are always happy to help, and they offered me very good advice on improving my application forms and CVs. From what I understand, the careers team also offer interview practices, which would be very useful in the future if you have an important interview for a dream work placement opportunity.

A well-rounded education

Leeds offers a very wholesome education. There is a vibrant society here which I enjoy very much, which caters to a whole range of activities and hobbies. Having taken part in so many activities and societies, there is a whole lot of fun to be had and a lot of skills to learn too. Having signed up for the Kickboxing Society, we learned some basic self-defence and got a great workout at the same time. At the same time, I am constantly being pushed to my intellectual capacity and encouraged to think of the contributions I can make with my knowledge and skills to the society, if not the world. Being surrounded by so much research and knowledge is truly exhilarating and the next scientific breakthrough could just be around the corner. As a part of this community, I am constantly reminded of the significance of my work and our potential as individuals and as a collective to make an impact on the world.