Life has reached a sort of crazy equilibrium in the last week as I’ve started to truly grasp how much my course expects me to know for my exams (and I thought the twenty amino acids would be a lot…) and at the same time had some of the better nights out (and in) I can claim at Imperial. Unfortunately (and very aptly), in the beautiful world of bioenergetics, equilibrium means death. And so we beat on, biochemists against the biochemistry, borne back ceaselessly down the marking scale.
There was a surreal moment this week when we were told a practical we’d done ages ago (I hadn’t remembered doing it and certainly didn’t want it back) had been ‘marked and returned to our pigeonholes’. Prospective biochemists, you will come to know that phrase as at once the most exciting and horrifying of your Imperial careers (shortly followed by any of the several polite, apologetic variations of “Of couuuuurse!” in response to “Do we need to know this for the exam?” I’ve heard over the last few weeks). Anyway, after the lecture we all piled into the office to survey the damage. Lo and behold, carnage, devastation, comments along the lines of “Your drawing was so woefully unrelated to the practical that I can’t even mark this tripe.”
And so our course has been transformed, or rather beaten down, from a group of nervous and determined students, raised and honed in the best and most competitive secondary educations, buzzword being “first”, to a horde of anxious sheep shuffling to and from the library to the unforgiving pigeonholes to the mind-blowing lectures, buzzword being “pass”.
On the topic of lectures, they’ve been getting ruthlessly more difficult. Mid-term crisis brought to you by Metabolism with Maureen, weekday mornings at ten. It’s not that any individual thing she lectures is quite difficult in and of itself. Every individual question is quite answerable. (Unlike, say, physics, who recently were examined with gems like “Calculate the center of mass of an infinite spiral.”) It’s the sheer volume of biochemistry we have to know that will probably kill us.
Take, for example, the transamination reaction that occurs in the breakdown of amino acids in diet. Think on it for a few minutes and it’s crystal clear. On its own, it’s okay to memorise. Except that our lecturer covered it in about three minutes of an hour’s lecture of a series of about fifteen. That’s a lot of stuff to know and it’s just two weeks’ worth. Recently typed up every ‘learning objective’ in the cell biology course and there’s about 98.
The only real solution for this mess, if one wants to stay sane, is to party just as hard. Shoutouts to XOYO, Wilson House, mixer of the week: Fanta Twist, off-licenses in South Kensington, late-night buses that break down every three seconds, nine-AM lectures.
Apparently we got a lot of weird looks for freaking out about this tube, but I just mourn their poor desensitized souls…