Studying Environmental Technology has been, more often than not, a bleak undertaking. My classmates and I have made a whole lot of jokes about each lecture being a new existential crisis. It feels like climate change is a train wreck in slow motion: a present danger with the potential for utter catastrophe and an increasing number of people frantically waving their hands about trying to warn others. Its most immediate effects are often played down or ignored, not helped by the fact that it can be hard to definitively say which events have been caused or exacerbated by climate change. It’s far easier for those in positions of power to continue with “business as usual”, kicking responsibility down the line until the situation inevitably reaches a point of no return.
Course: Enviromental Technology
After paying the second half of my tuition fees, it’s fair to say that money has been on my mind a lot this week. One of the reasons that I chose to come to the UK for grad school was the cost. Higher education in the US is infamously expensive and, unlike my undergrad degree, I would be taking on the price of grad school entirely myself. Even factoring in the exchange rates, the cost of a UK MSc was still far less than one from back home. Pretty much a no-brainer to study here, right? However, as an international student, choosing to pursue a master’s degree at Imperial rather than another UK university has been its own financial challenge.
The option term is going by at light speed, which means that it is nearly thesis time. And while the course conveners have been quick to tell us that we have plenty of time to sort out projects and not to get too stressed out, I have, in fact, been stressing out about it. In particular, the process of choosing a project idea has been intensely frustrating for me. I would describe it as running on a sort of hamster wheel that cycles through several stages.
As an international student, I feel the need to see as much as I can while I’m here in the UK. And although I love living in London, I will readily admit that sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city. Fortunately, this island is well-connected by rail, which I’ve found allows for a variety of inexpensive day or weekend trips. And, perhaps less fortunately, I get to indulge my amateur travel-blogger side here on this site.
My first daytrip upon arriving to the UK was to Dover, an hour or so to the southeast. I didn’t know much about Dover beyond some vague notion of white cliffs, but that was enough for me.
Not gonna lie, I was a little anxious about returning to Imperial after the Christmas break. UK Masters programs are only one year long, which is great in many ways (including for my bank account) but time passes incredibly quickly as a result. The arrival of the spring term meant that the pace and level of learning were sure to be kicking up into high gear. Two weeks in however, I‘ve found a lot to love about this second term.
Environmental Technology starts with a core course in the fall, which gets every student on the same page in terms of thinking about the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problem-solving.
Instead of flying back home for the holiday break, I ended up staying in London. Since many of my friends were out of town or spending time with family, I was afraid that I would be unbearably bored— fortunately I found that London has plenty to offer displaced students over Christmas.
As expected from a city where the Christmas lights come out in October, London is overflowing with Christmas markets come December. Whether purposefully seeking one out or stumbling across one accidentally, I loved passing through them for the lights and lively atmosphere.
Staying In Shape
Parkrun, which facilitates free timed 5k runs in the UK, has been a key part of my fitness routine while in London.
During the fall term I spent most of my time on campus, even coming in on weekends to use the pool at Ethos and get some work done in the quiet student common room of my department building. But now that the College is closed for the holidays I’ve been spending a lot more time at home, which for me is a student accommodation in North London. Finding a place to live in London was a big concern for me as an incoming international postgraduate student, as options through Imperial were limited, and I know that many of my fellow students have been in the same boat.
In the 3 months since I moved to London the number one question that I’ve been asked by everyone from classmates to relatives to strangers is how it compares to New York City, my hometown. Overall, I think the two cities have very similar vibes but some aspects I just can’t help but compare. So, for the curious, I’m pleased to present the definitive comparison list:
Subway System: Londoners are shocked when I proclaim my undying love for the Tube, but it’s true. The NYC subway may run 24/7 (ostensibly) but you lose a little piece of your soul every time you miss your train and see that the next one isn’t for another 18 minutes.