When we spoke to Siobhan Downing, she was just about to set off on a three-month trip to the USA with her fellow classmates Ruth Spitzlei and Darren Lucas. “We’re going to Purdue University in Indiana to work on a research project about the effect of salt in people’s diets,” she explained. “I can’t wait and we’re all really excited about it. We’ll spend two months at Purdue and then another month travelling.”
So how did all of this come about? “We all answered an email that was advertising the placement. After a round of interviews we found out that we’d been selected and would get a £2,500 scholarship to cover our expenses.”
Siobhan was keen to point out how the interview techniques she learned at Hope helped her. “In the careers lessons we did lots of role plays and so on. Thanks to what I gained from those, I felt fully prepared for the interviews. I was a bit nervous of course, that’s natural, but confident too.”
Moving on Siobhan’s course itself, did she feel that it also prepared her for the big step she’s about to take? “Definitely,” she said. “It’s been fantastic. Nutrition is a big area and you study many subjects like food science, biology and biomedicine. That’s been quite challenging at times, but also fascinating.
“What surprised me about the course was how much of it is practical. You’re not just sitting there listening to lectures all the time but get involved in interactive activities and tasks – like food tasting or taking measurements for example.
“It’s all very hands-on. That makes the whole experience of learning a lot of fun - but more importantly, you remember what you’re learned. If you’re just told something or you read it along with a lot of other information, it’s all too easy to forget. If you actually do it, it sticks inside your brain. You know it.”
Siobhan found that another positive aspect of this style of learning is the group work experience, as she explained: “It really teaches you about communication, team working and how to co-operate with others. That’s brilliant because that’s what the real world of work is all about – especially in nutrition where you have to collaborate with lots of different people like nurses and dieticians.”
As for Hope itself, Siobhan particularly enjoyed life on campus too. “There’s a nice community feel to it. The campus is very pretty and lovely to work in, though you can easily get to the centre of the city which is great for nights out. I’ve found Liverpool a very student friendly place and I’ve loved my time here.”