Paula Blanco Sanchez
- Course: PhD in Renewable Energy
- Nationality: Mexican
Why I chose to study for a PhD at the University of Leeds
When I was in the last year of my Undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to study abroad so I started a research about different Universities in Europe and in the UK. The University of Leeds was highlighted in many aspects including it's thoughtfulness to International Students. Furthermore the high level of research and the well-equipped facilities, especially in the research field I wanted to study, helped me to decide to undertake my PhD here at the University of Leeds.
About my research
In the last three years I have been working in the renewable energies field, specifically in the thermal treatment of solid waste. I have been interested in this research field, since the production and treatment of solid waste represents a worldwide problem. The trend of solid waste production is rising around the world; therefore, environmentally friendly disposal methods are required. The University of Leeds has a whole department focused on the study and analysis of thermal treatments, with research facilities including some of the most advanced technology in The Energy Research Institute.
My favourite part of the course
Undertaking a PhD involves a lot of personnel commitment, you work independently with the guide of your supervisor and some postgraduate fellowships. Thus I think that undertaking research, designing and carrying out experiments by myself, in high specialized facilities, has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Furthermore I had the opportunity to attend to different International Conferences in Denmark, Portugal, France, and China. Also I did one month research stay at the University of Sydney in Australia, which helped me to interact and work in other academic environment.
Activities outside of my studies
The University of Leeds has one of the biggest Student Unions in the country, with loads of societies including cultural and sports societies, therefore there is a wide range of activities you can take part in to meet new people depending on your priorities. I have been part of the Committee of the Mexican Society and also belong to the cross country and running club society. The University of Leeds also has a wide variety of facilities, including a gym with brand new and very accessible facilities. Personally I like to go there at least 4 times per week, which has helped me to relax and stay healthy. Finally I am learning French in Leeds, taking a two hour per week course.
My Ambitions for the future
Currently I am looking for postdoctoral positions and for jobs either here or in Europe. I would like to keep working in the renewable energies field, but I would also be happy to work in any issue directly related with chemical engineering.
How my time at Leeds will help me in my career
First of all I think that having a PhD degree from a recognized University, such as the University of Leeds, is in itself a plus in my academic development. During the last three years I have acquired different skills that will definitely help me in my professional career. In addition to my PhD research, I have attended diverse training courses and lectures that helped me to acquire new knowledge and understanding of different issues related to my profession. In addition, I had the chance to help undergraduate and master students with their projects and questions about their respective courses.
Life as an international student in Leeds
At the very beginning I was a little bit scared about the language, meeting new people, getting used to the weather, and all those things you have to face up to moving abroad. However since I arrived to Leeds I have realised the people here are really patient and you can adapt yourself very easily. There is a large variety of food, and the city has one of the biggest markets I have ever seen, where you can find a broad variety of products. The City also has a wide range of cultural, social, and even international activities, so you end up meeting people from different countries and you can get used to the new lifestyle quickly.
My advice to prospective students
You should look for the specific requirements of the course they want to undertake. There is a wide variety of courses and research options at the University of Leeds, so you need to make sure that the selected course will comply with your requirements. In the case of International Students, I strongly recommend to read about the differences between their home country and UK about marking and assessment. If you already know what you want to study, I would definitely recommend the University of Leeds to start or continue with your academic career.