Yesterday evening I went along to the Science Challenge final in the Cabinet War Rooms. It was a lovely event with lots of free drinks and tasty little foods in bowls, and a great chance to meet some of the other people who had entered the challenge too. The venue was also cool —the Cabinet War Rooms are the underground bunkers where Churchill and other World War Two characters pushed planes around on maps, planned the war and sheltered from air raids.
If you haven’t read my previous blogs this was the final of an essay competition open to Imperial and school students, though there was a video section too, which I am quite interested in attempting next year. Basically, there were three categories set by three different judges. As you’ve already probably read the spoiler in the blog summary, I won’t try and keep you in suspense about if I won or not! (I did) 😀
It was a completely surreal experience, having to go alone to Westminster on a Monday night in black tie on the tube and even odder hearing my name read out as winning and then having to go back carrying cheques for a thousand pounds (!) and two big shiny trophies. I got to meet Pallab Ghosh who set my question, which was exciting, though I couldn’t locate him afterwards to say thanks to him and his daughter (who my essay was aimed at, see previous blog posts) for picking me. I also got to meet the Provost of Imperial (am not entirely sure what a provost is but I think it is important) who is a theoretical Physicist and have a good conversation about CERN where he had worked and the CERN exhibition in the Science Museum. All this CERN chat was relevant because another part of my prize is that I get to go to on a trip there, somewhere I have been desperate to go for years! It’s all still too crazy to take in.
I have absolutely no idea what to spend my prize money on! So far I have had a very sophisticated meal of some celebratory sushi and ice-cream (mmmm) but I haven’t yet done anything extravagant like buy the sushi restaurant or get a sculpture of myself made out of ice-cream. We will see.
This weekend, my parents came down and we biked around Hyde Park, went up the Shard and ate in a cool jazz and cocktail restaurant under an arch of a railway bridge. London is awesome. Alex’s parents also very kindly took us to The Big Easy for his birthday meal where I managed to stuff myself on tasty ribs and had a crab’s pincer (terrifyingly, they still pince!)
Finally, I thought I should probably mention that I have been struggling with stress and anxiety this term. I find it difficult to talk about, but as my tutor said today, a lot of people are experiencing the same problems as me and maybe it would help someone else to know that they are not alone or going insane!
It has definitely felt at points like there is not really any help out there, which was difficult as I felt my depression was having a negative effect on my family and friends (especially Alex who has been exceptionally kind and patient with me). I visited Imperial Medical Centre, and have now signed up to an Exam Stress workshop which I have heard really encouraging things about. I also spoke to my personal tutor today, and after having researched a little bit into how to treat anxiety myself, I am feeling much more positive.
I am really determined to put in the work I can to address these problems which are stopping me from doing things that I want to do. This feels like a huge weakness in myself, but hopefully with some practice at controlling how I think and feel, I can get over this and maybe find that this experience increases my empathy for and ability to help other people experiencing similar things in the future.
I hope that this hasn’t come across as too self-helpy or overly personal—I just thought that I should let any of you know that are experiencing similar problems, that they are very common and nothing to be ashamed of. Anyway. Thanks for reading. 🙂