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School: International School of Madrid, Spain
Studied: Cambridge IGCSEs in Art & Design, Combined Sciences, English Language, English Literature, French, History, Mathematic and Spanish as a First Language; Cambridge International A Levels in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, History, Spanish and French.
Went on to: Currently studying for a master’s degree in Chemical Science and Engineering at Tokyo Institute of Technology
Future plans: A career in chemical engineering in Japan
How did you decide on your degree course at university?
When I was researching university options I had a clear interest in science, so I started to look for degree courses related to the subjects in which I was most interested. These were Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, which I had chosen to study for my Cambridge International A Levels. I decided to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering, which I thought would broaden my knowledge of these areas. My Cambridge International A Level studies helped me screen possible courses, and also reassured me that I was passionate about these subjects.
You went on to study at universities in Scotland and Madrid – tell us more
I started my Chemical Engineering studies at Heriot-Watt University, in Scotland, where I completed my first year, before returning to Spain to finish my degree at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. At Edinburgh, I undertook mainly foundation courses, which were similar to my Cambridge International A Levels except that the syllabuses were wider, and included subjects such as calculus and algebra, and also several physics and chemistry courses. In Spain, my studies became more specific and advanced every year, until I was finally studying topics such as chemical process control, experimentation in chemical engineering and separation processes.
How did your Cambridge qualifications prepare you for university?
Firstly, my Cambridge International A Levels in science gave me a broad understanding of the topics I would need to know as an undergraduate. All the core scientific courses that I took at both universities built on the foundation created by my Cambridge International A Level studies as the very broad syllabuses prepare students for more advanced university courses. The fact that you can focus your studies on very few subjects also helps you decide on the degree to pursue. Furthermore, the fact that you cover such extensive courses also develops crucial study skills. At university, numerous subjects are studied in each semester, and a lot of information must be understood in a limited period of time. The skills needed to prepare for Cambridge International A Levels develop your ability to condense, efficiently learn, understand, and select the most important information.
You are just about to start a Master’s degree course in Tokyo – why did you decide on Japan for the next stage of your education?
When I was investigating options to extend my knowledge of a specific area of Chemical Engineering I came upon an important research group within the Tokyo Institute of Technology, one of Japan’s leading research universities. The group specialises in the innovative synthesis of complex architecture polymers, and is also associated with an international Master’s programme. I became interested in polymers during my final years as an chemical engineering undergraduate, and so this research group seemed like a perfect match for my future study plans. The group has been very welcoming from the start of the application process and I am eager to begin learning under their supervision, as well as carrying out a research project of my own which aligns both my interests and the interests of the group. The fact that the Institute as a whole is research-oriented caught my attention the most, and I wish to learn all I can from experienced researchers.
What do you think are the benefits of studying in different countries?
I believe there are numerous benefits. Firstly, and especially in my case, it can really boost your level of English. During the year I spent in Scotland, I completely immersed myself in the local culture, further developing my communication skills. Overall, I managed to achieve a superior fluency in English compared to when I first arrived. Additionally, it is an opportunity to engage with people from all around the globe. This helps you understand more about different cultures, and you also meet people from very different parts of the world with whom you share similar interests.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your studies?
Yes, it has been an unstable time, academically speaking. My classes were held using several computer platforms, but did not meet previous standards, and exams used a rather complicated online system. However, it is clear that much progress has been made since the start of the pandemic, and I can see that teachers and universities are getting used to this new way of learning.
What are your future career plans?
My aim is to make the most of my two years with the research group and learn as much as I can about chemical and polymer engineering, so I can build the foundations I need for future employment in this industry, hopefully in Japan. I want to solve technical problems and investigate innovative technologies, and use all the knowledge I acquire during my Master’s in my future career. I would also like to use the opportunity of studying in Japan to get to know the country in which I hope to work after I have completed my postgraduate studies."