Abi Finch

What did you do before coming to Pembroke?

I took 4 A levels in Chemistry, Biology, Maths and English Literature.

What degree are you currently doing, and what stage are you at in your degree?

I have just finished a 3-year degree at Pembroke studying Psychology and Philosophy

What is the biggest/most important thing that you have learned during your time at Pembroke?

During my time at Pembroke I have learnt a lot and developed a lot as a person. I have learnt how to be independent and I have become a lot more confident in myself and in my friendships with others. I have also learnt a lot about where my interests lie. Before coming to Pembroke I had never studied either psychology or philosophy and so I had very little idea which aspects of the course I would find most interesting. However the course is structured so that at first we got a really broad overview of a lot of the key areas in psychology and philosophy and then in second and third year, as I discovered which areas I enjoyed more, I was able to select the courses that I found most interesting and specialise in particular areas of interest.

In your final year, which Advanced Options did you take? Did you do a Research Project? Did you write a library dissertation?

For my finals I chose to do a 5:3 split between psychology and philosophy. My second year exams counted for 2 of the 5 psychology modules. I then took two psychology advanced options in Colour Vision and Conscious Awareness (neuropsychology and psychophysics), which I really enjoyed. For the final psychology module I did a research project in which I investigated a relatively recently discovered photosensitive pigment in the eye, called melanopsin, using psychophysical procedures. For my 3 philosophy modules I took Knowledge and Reality, Philosophy of Mind, and Aesthetics, which were also very interesting and complemented the psychology well.

What would you like to do when you finish your degree? Or, if you already have something in place, please describe it!

Next I will be going into a PhD in the Physics department at Durham where I will investigating the way in which the human eye's lens focuses.

What has been the highlight of your time at Pembroke / Oxford?

The highlight of my time at Oxford has probably been in third year working in the lab to complete my research project and also going to the tutorials for my final options. This is because at this point I was doing the subjects that really interested me and I had the time to do the reading so I really felt that I could contribute and engage with the material.

Was there anything that surprised you about Pembroke / Oxford in your first year here?

I think I was surprised by how friendly everyone is here. The porters and scouts and other staff are all really lovely. This has made Pembroke feel very much like home to me.

Any advice for prospective students?

It can be a bit of a shock when you first arrive at Pembroke to adjust to the work load and the new style of working. If you find it’s too much and you’re struggling then don’t worry! That is very normal and there are plenty of people who you can talk to who can help you out.

Anything else..?

From my experience you can get a lot out of your time at Oxford and Pembroke in particular. Everyone will want to get something different out of their time at uni and at Oxford there are so many opportunities to do this. So many in fact that even if you fill every waking moment you can still feel as if you’re missing out. For this reason it’s also easy to forget to look after yourself and make time for sleeping. I found that I actually enjoyed my time most when I cut down in the amount that I was doing and made sure I had enough time to sleep and then just focused on the things that most interested me rather than trying to do everything.