Abbey College Cambridge student Juan Fernandez Pottecher has been getting a taste of life as a University of Cambridge student this summer.
Juan, who is from Spain and currently studying for his A Levels, won a place on a prestigious University of Cambridge Chemistry Summer School programme after finishing in the top 50 student Chemists in the country (and receiving the Roentgenium Award) in the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge.
We caught up with Juan as he returned to his second year of studies at Abbey College Cambridge to find out more about his experiences over the summer:
How did it feel to do so well in the Chemistry Challenge and receive a place on the Chemistry Summer School?
‘After finishing the challenge I knew I hadn’t done badly but I thought I hadn’t done well enough to be selected for the camp. So when I got the email saying that I got in, I was shocked. It was a very rewarding moment, knowing that the extra reading and the practice that I had done had been completely worth it.’
How do you think you teachers helped you?
‘I had an immense amount of support from all my Chemistry teachers, Allan, Robin and Neil, who always answer the random questions I fire to them or even help me find the answers to the questions they do not have answers to.
They have been amazing at giving me books of all sorts and other documents to fulfil my growing desire to learn Chemistry. I should also mention that Allan and Robin ran a chemistry masterclass in which they dedicated to teach me as well as an eager group of students problem solving strategies in Chemistry.’
What did you learn on the Summer School?
‘I learned which areas of chemistry I need to improve and I learned about the University. Despite having much fun getting surprisingly wrong results for both of the practicals I did at the camp; this is something I will definitely look forward to improving.’
What was it like studying at Cambridge University?
‘I somehow felt refreshed. The content was studied in a much greater depth than in A levels, and it was taught with unbeatable effectiveness.
What did you enjoy most about the summer school experience?
‘Contradicting what I said earlier, it was the first practical, two hours long, that I enjoyed the most. We were assigned the task of determining the structure of a complex copper ion by means of two different kinds of titrations. Unlike the practicals that we do in A levels, we could not expect or guess what the outcome of the experiment would be.’
How will this affect your future plans?
‘After going to the camp, I think I should have a go at applying to Oxbridge, and I definitely know now that I want to dedicate myself to study chemistry in university and hopefully well beyond.’