Katherine Dodds, MEng Civil Engineering

What do you like most about being a student at the University of Edinburgh?

The city! I was attracted to studying at Edinburgh by the beautiful city – there really is no better place to live for five years. Edinburgh has all the amenities of a large city; beautiful hills, architecture and coastline all within easy reach, and many of Scotland’s beautiful national parks a short drive or train ride away.  
Edinburgh also has an amazing restaurant and café scene, with great eateries right on the doorstep of the university buildings. It is a very walkable city and it is easy to immerse yourself in it without feeling overwhelmed by its size. My favourite part about living here is definitely the food scene - there’s so many fantastic restaurants, with a wide range of cuisines, to suit all budgets.  
The sense of community at the University of Edinburgh is also fantastic – it is a lovely mash up of all the different cultures that make up our university population. It has been particularly great during the Covid-19 pandemic to know there’s a strong and supportive community here to assist with any difficulties.

How would you describe your programme of study to a prospective student? What is the most interesting thing about this programme?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic my teaching has been entirely digital this academic year but it has been managed fantastically. We currently receive pre-recorded videos through the university platform, complemented with reading materials and exercises to complete, in addition to a weekly digital seminar in each course (I currently study six courses per term). The benefit of this system is that your work is entirely flexible around any other commitments, such as work or caring responsibilities, you may have. I personally have used this flexibility to start volunteering once weekly at a heritage steam railway near my home in North Yorkshire, which has been an incredibly rewarding experience.  
The lecturers are incredibly helpful and in first year there is the chance for you to attend sessions led by EngPALS, a group of older students who can assist with any material you are struggling to understand.  A typical week for myself in the current situation includes roughly five days of work, working 9am-5pm, with breaks. This may seem daunting, but is not that dissimilar to the amount of time working at school. Engineering is a subject that requires more attendance and work hours than other subjects, due to its practical nature. However, completing laboratory work is really good fun and you have access to great facilities, which is why it is my favourite part of the course.

University Clubs and Societies: Describe your involvement in any student clubs and societies. What have you gained from this experience?

I have been involved in many university clubs since starting at Edinburgh including fencing, cricket, the orchestra and the Civil Engineering Society. Personally I’m really passionate about sport and I’ve really enjoyed my time especially in the fencing club (EUFC), where I have recently been voted in as the club’s treasurer. EUFC is one of the leading fencing club’s in the UK, and it has been fantastic to compete and train with some of the best athletes in the country, including Olympic hopefuls!  
One of my favourite experiences has been competing in the university team which has allowed me to go to many competitions at lots of different universities. It has been a great way to not only socialise with people in the university, but also people at different universities, where you meet people from different backgrounds who are studying different subjects. It really makes you feel part of another community within the university and there is lots of social events to get involved with alongside training. There is also great opportunities for development through courses funded my the university such as coaching, refereeing and first aid in the sport of your choice.

What sort of accommodation are you living in? What do you like about it?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic I’m currently living at home and working remotely but prior to this I was living in private halls which were run by an external company but occupied by University of Edinburgh students. The accommodation was in a lovely part of town and included a communal garden and private gym. There was also a communal lounge, with a TV, pool table and cinema room which was a great space to socialise with friends. Edinburgh has great transport links for getting around town; there is a regular bus service and comprehensive cycle network, in addition to a large train station and international airport which made travel very convenient. Before the pandemic we would often go on trips at the weekend to neighbouring cities or to the Scottish Highlands.

Is there any advice you could share with new students to help them make the most of their time at Edinburgh?

Make the most of weekends and holidays from university to go and explore Scotland. There are so many student deals available to make travelling affordable and it’s a great way to switch off and unwind away from your studies. Embrace the restaurant and café scene and organise meet ups with friends there. Socialising in some of Edinburgh’s outdoor spaces can be an excellent alternative in nice weather and some of my favourite spots includes: The Meadows, Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park, Portobello Beach, the Botanic Gardens, and for the more adventurous, the outdoor, year round, artificial ski slope only a 30 minute bus ride from the city.

What are you hoping to do after graduation?

After I graduate I hope to work in the civil engineering sector, perhaps in consultancy. It is still early days for me so I haven’t made any firm plans at this stage, although there is a really helpful Careers Service at the university for support and direction to equip you with the skills necessary to apply for both placements and jobs.