As soon as I found out that I’d be studying here, I was immediately filled with petty worries.
Let’s face it: living in London is expensive. It might sound scary, especially that for some of you the first year of the university will be also the first year when you have to be fully responsible for your finances.
Why would we expect it be any different, during the exam phase everything revolves around exams. I have now finished all exams at Imperial and it went quite well. Most of the exams were fairly constructed, but personally it felt more difficult to reach 100%. The fact that I have written exams in both the Chemical Department and the Mechanical Department allows me to make an interesting interdisciplinary comparison of my observations.
Ban on eating
Fortunately, I was allowed to bring food on the latter, so that I could fill up my sugar reserves after 2 hours of concentration. Unfortunately, this was forbidden in the Chemical Department.
I have an unusual routine every Thursday night. I pull on a pair of swimming trunks, a dive mask and snorkel, and a pair of fins before diving into the deep pool at Putney Leisure Centre. I am an underwater rugby player.
Underwater rugby is played in a 3D-environment where attacks can come from anywhere: above, below and all around you.
Underwater rugby (UWR) started life in Germany in the 1960s as a way for divers to stay fit during the winter. It quickly took on a life of its own and today, it is played in much of Europe, as well as the US, Australia, Colombia and Singapore.
It’s Beit as in bite not Beit as in bait
Don’t worry, I was calling it “Bait” right until the moment when my hall senior greeted me on move in day and I’d just made a fool of myself by pronouncing it wrong for months! My time in halls this year has absolutely flown by. Do I feel like I made the most of my time here? Probably not, but with 3 weeks left I look forward to enjoying the benefits of living in such a prestigious and lively area in the heart of London. I’ll split this post into 2 sections what I’ve liked and disliked about Beit, and what to consider when choosing halls.
As the academic year comes to an end, I thought I’d reflect on my first year at university.
Here’s the thing- we all have a tendency to sugarcoat. We share all the good, but seldom the ‘bad’ times. Sure, there’s the occasional (or frequent) posts about workload and stress; but how many of us actually openly share our experiences when the goings get really tough? Following my last blogpost, I’d really like to keep the honesty streak going.
First term was a bit of a nightmare for me- it was almost a process of trying to rediscover myself in a sense.
It’s no secret that London can be expensive to live in but thankfully, having a good meal doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. Here’s a quick guide to getting tasty treats at wallet-friendly prices.
1. Supermarket meal deals
Every supermarket and also Boots chemists do meal deals that bundle a sandwich, a snack (e.g. chocolate bars, crisps, side dishes), and a drink for anywhere between £3 – 5. Tesco’s is the cheapest but I generally prefer the stuff at Boots and Co-Op.
2. Ready-to-eat/cook meals
London favours the supermarket savvy. Most places have loads of delicious ready-to-eat/cook meals at bargain prices.
The second term was tough with five separate two-week modules and two one-week half-modules, all with their own coursework and deadlines, plus we all had to complete a literature review for our research project and submit a 20 page write-up. As well as intimidating, this was very exciting as it marked the transition from the taught components of the course to the research element, which is exactly why I embarked upon the course in the first place: to test out my ideas for research into the energy system transition to see if they have any validity, if I can ‘do research’, if I find it interesting and feel it can be useful.
I’m definitely a social animal. While I need some “me time” once in a while, I tend to surround myself with people. This is why when I embarked on my first PhD journey, I wasn’t too thrilled to learn that I’d be travelling alone. That sounded so scary, I was afraid that something would go wrong or, in the best case scenario, I’d just feel lonely and miserable for a few days.
Since then I’ve been to so many conferences in various countries, often extended to a mini-vacation. Almost always, completely alone. And let me tell you, I learned to love it.
I was told the Summer was also a thing in England, “a week long thing”.
Since earlier this year there was so much snow, I did not believe in the exaggeration a whole week was!
I saw the sun while I was in London,
It turns out even the Sun comes for a 5 c’clock tea with Her Majesty every now and then.
It does exist here, but I like the snow better
Just a few thoughts as I close the lid on two momentous terms at Imperial.
1. You don’t know what you can achieve until you try
I took a big risk doing this course considering the huge cost and my non-science background. Plus it’s been almost a decade since my undergrad days. Yet somehow I have thrived. Amid the flood of new concepts, information and working styles, I find myself with a fighting chance of a distinction (although maybe I’ve just jinxed it). Of course, I still have the massive challenge of my dissertation but this is already beyond what I imagined this time last year.
If you’re thinking of going to Amsterdam, go to Haarlem instead. No, seriously.
Haarlem is a smaller city just 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. It’s got far fewer tourists, cheaper and nicer accommodation, and way better food. PLUS, it’s a mere 20 minute bus ride to the beach!Haarlem’s main square. Photo: iamsterdam.com
With the final assignment of term 2 done and dusted, we decided to take advantage of Eurostar’s new direct train from London to Amsterdam (£35 one way). Well, almost direct. It does do a short stop in Brussels and the total journey is about 3.5 hours.