I chose to study Ecology because of my love for everything outdoors, especially natural history and discovering the processes allowing wildlife to live alongside humans. I chose Aberystwyth after I visited on an open day. The staff were eager and engaging, the campus green and full of birds, the views from the library were breath-taking and I could get to the beach in minutes and be walking in Cambrian Mountains 20 minutes later. I suddenly couldn’t imagine myself studying anywhere else, Aberystwyth ticked all my boxes!
The first week of my degree was a series of trips and walks to local nature reserves and historical sites, with other students from my course and IBERs. I sat next to someone on the bus of my first trip who remains (4years later) one of my best friends! I quickly made friends with people through tutorials, in pubs and on the beach. In Aberystwyth, it’s difficult to go anywhere without seeing a familiar face!
For me, Aberystwyth stands out from other universities through the allocation of personal tutors to all students. My tutor was fantastic and invaluable. He was contactable and easy to meet up with and talk to. ANY issue I had, whether it was being off ill and wondering how to catch up or not knowing how to approach an assignment, I would go to my tutor knowing he would point me in the right direction.
In my second year, I went on a field course to Abisko National Park in Sweden (see above picture). I had the opportunity to stay at a research station and conduct a study, into the effects of elevated temperatures on vegetation, using their field sites. This was an incredible experience and arguably one of the modules I have gained most from, both academically and personally.
The above pictures are of my Lapwing project which was featured on the front cover of the Conservation Team Report.
After my second year I took part in YES (Year in Employment Scheme). I found an opportunity as a Field Assistant with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. The university guided me through the process of application and helped me defer my studies. Whilst working I had the opportunity to get involved in surveys (including: Water voles, Manx Shearwaters, Reptiles, Newts), public engagement events and conferences, invasive species control and to conduct my own project into reducing predation on Lapwing nests (see above pictures). Having a professional development year has given me more confidence, improved my work ethic and skill set, and confirmed that this is undoubtedly my future career path. My year as a Field Assistant, working alongside likeminded enthusiastic people, has inspired me to get into the field of Ecology and put all I have learnt, and I am continuing to learn, into practice!
Studying in Aberystwyth and the opportunities I have been given during my time here, have developed me into a more rounded and independent individual. I’m sad to be graduating this summer, but am incredibly thankful to have had these absolutely wonderful years here to establish myself as an Ecologist. I would recommend Aberystwyth to anyone thinking of studying here!