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Andrew Cheung

Sport, Exercise and Nutrition

What appealed to you about Northumbria University / studying in Newcastle?

I am originally from Manchester, ethnically from Hong Kong, and was living in Cumbria before University.  The University appealed to me as it was a campus based University, in the heart of Newcastle. Other universities such as Edinburgh are scattered around the city. Also the University is very keen on sport, and the new sport centre was being built at the time. Newcastle as a city has a great culture, and is the major city up north.

What was it about the course / subject area that particularly appealed?

I’ve always had an interest in sport; it made me feel good about myself. Alongside that my family had a restaurant, so I had been working in the food industry since I was 13; the link between the two gave me the idea of sport and food, so I chose sports nutrition. There was only a handful of universities that offered the course, but the University at Northumbria is what appealed to me. Sports in the modern world, every edge counts towards performance, there are scientists, engineers, physiotherapists, psychologists etc, and I believe nutrition is an up and coming field, especially with the likes of London 2012 coming up, and this was what appealed me into the subject area.

What qualifications did you have?

I applied through UCAS with A levels in Maths (A) and Sports Science (B), and AS levels in Biology (B) and Physics (B), as well as getting 11 GCSEs between A*-C including A* in Chinese and A in Maths and Graphics Design.

How did you feel during your first week at Northumbria?

Personally I felt alone as my parents moved abroad as I came to University, and none of my friends from 6th form came to this University so I didn’t know anyone. I quickly made friends in halls as they were people I lived with and also they were in the same boat as me not knowing anyone at the University. In addition, Welcome Week was on and gave me a chance to meet other people too as well as the sports induction.

What do you like most about the course?

The course covered a wide area, I disliked the amount of biochemistry I had to study as I never did it at A level so found it hard, but all the areas covered allowed us to be accredited as sports nutritionists after the degree. The course was brand new when we started, so we were the experiment. There have already been some changes, but I have enjoyed it so far, especially to do with the nutrition such as the relations of food and obesity, and food marketing.

Can you give an example of a piece of work you’ve been involved with recently?

Currently I am working on my dissertation, it involves a lot of private study and research, and I will be using the cycle ergometers for testing performance with the influence of sports drinks. The course gets harder, as it is much more independent, but I do not mind working on it and researching and reading for the subject as it is an area I enjoy and am interested in.  

How do you get on with your tutors?

I get on well with my tutors; I let my tutors know if I am unable to attend lectures or seminars, and ask them any questions I am struggling with. The tutors are very polite and can help me with anything, not just regarding to academic work. My tutor guided me through what to do for a PEC form when a member of my family passed away.

Do you have the opportunity for any work placements during your course?

As our course was brand new, we did not do a six week work placement like the sports science students, but we were asked from the programme leader if we wanted to go on a year long placement, so the option was there.

What do you do when you’re not studying?

I am heavily involved within the union; I was course rep for my course, and now School rep, so I attend meetings with the School and talk about any problems, as well as feeding back with students and their views on their courses. In addition I was also elected by the students of Northumbria as Lay Student Councillor, representing all 35,000 students, working for the Union, and sitting on the Student Council.

As well as this, I am the Vice-President of the Paintball Society, where I organise socials and trips, and help the running of the society. I am in the OTC (Officer Training Corps) as an officer cadet, which is the group B members of the TA, here we learn about leadership and command tasks etc. I also go to the breakdance society and the dance society, as I am a hip hop dancer myself. Finally my sport is orienteering, where I was selected reserves for England for the World Schools Orienteering Championships in 2006.

What’s your accommodation like?

In my first year I lived in Lovaine Halls, which was the cheapest ones Northumbria had to offer, it was one long corridor that went round the whole building with around 70 rooms on each floor, every eight rooms shared a kitchen that had a table with only six chairs, and every 12 people shared three toilets and two showers and a bath; but we had cleaners coming in every day to clean these, and our rooms once a week. It cost me at the time under £60 a week including all bills and internet. The upside of this is that I was saving a lot of money compared to people with en-suite, where some cost £100+ a week.

In my second year I moved into a four bedroom house in Jesmond, it was a nice house, but cost £70 a week with no bills included. The house was big so it was cold, and high maintenance. This year I live in a three bedroom apartment near the quayside for £72 a week not including bills, this may be small but is easy to clean and look after.

What would you like to do when you graduate?

Currently I would like to run for Sabbatical Officer next year for the position of Vice President activities and development of the Student's Union, if I succeed, it is a one year job, which I would use to save up and look to continue study with a Masters degree the following year in Sports Marketing.

Have you used Student Services during your course?

I’ve been to Careers for information on studying abroad, but decided not to apply for it after I found out more detail about it.

Do you have any advice for anyone applying for your course, or for university in general?

Accommodation – think about what you really need or want. Accommodation really was a place to stay, as most of the time I am in University with lectures, or library doing work, at work, going out, training etc, so you don’t spend that much time in your accommodation, so think about budget, whether your loan covers your accommodation etc.

Independence – University is a lot difference to school, for example assessments are not all exams or coursework, there will be practical ones, because in real life, your boss won't come up to you and say write me an essay on such topic without looking at any books or internet, or talk to anyone, in an hour. You may get assessments such as cooking for nutrition, mock trials for law, feeding yogurt to a patient in nursing (because you can’t just shove food down a patient’s throat). There are also things called 'take away exams', where you go in at 9am to collect your exam paper and you go away for three hours; in that time you can go for a pint, go back to bed or do the work, it's up to you.  With regards to assignments, it is up to you to hand it in on time, lecturers will not remind you, and if the deadline is 12pm, the office will not accept it any time after that, and this will cause you to fail your module, which means you won't have enough credits to pass the year and will require a re-sit or re-submission, and at Northumbria this is capped at 40%, so it may affect your grade. You will need to get yourself organised and balance your social life with your academic work.

Finance – if you are worried about money there is student finance which is there to support you with your university time, but in addition to this it may be handy to get a part-time job, and with Newcastle being such a big city there are a lot available, as well as working for the University in marketing and recruitment or behind the bar.

The City – one in six people are students during term time in Newcastle, so there are plenty of other people just like you, and also Newcastle has been voted best student city by MSN Travel.

What three words would you use to describe your time at Northumbria?

Incredible, Memorable, Accessible.

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