Recent international, governmental and institutional decisions have truly shook the face of the Earth. The empty supermarket shelves, the lack of pasta and toilet paper, the closing of universities and borders… Currently on my way home with mixed feelings, my chest seems to weigh a ton but I wanted to share the main highlights of my second term:
I have taken part in a range on events this term: creating Beeswax films with the Ecology society, debating with FemSoc, participating in the FoNS-MAD Science competition, attending the musical Dear Evan Hansen, Biochemistry Ball, Science challenge… The diversity of these have not only allowed me to forge new connections but also engage in interesting conversations such as “to what extent do quotas reflect merit?”
In light of recent developments, I thought it’d be good to share some thoughts as an International Student here. The situation at home (Malaysia for me) and here in the UK seems to be developing at a similar pace, with numbers rising day after day. There are a lot of uncertainties at this moment, especially regarding borders; the possibility of a lock down both here and back home.
From all I can see, the expansive coverage by social media and traditional media in general, fear mongering is real and it’s undoubtedly spreading panic to the general public. What I’ve decided to do, is to limit the COVID-19 information that I am exposed to, on all my social media.
Science is improving the world with new discoveries, but should we consider their sociopolitical implications?
I will attempt to answer that using anime. Before you cringe about how someone could compare storyline in a 2D world to our very real 3D world, the series I’m covering has not just advice relating to Imperial but on how as scientifically-minded jobseekers, the way we view the world is important.
All is One
In Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (FMAB), alchemy is considered a field of science. The plot is set in a pre-WWII context and follows two brothers. During their training to become alchemists, they were chucked to a desolate island to find the meaning behind alchemy.
You often hear from older peers or professional guidance about how different university is from school but it’s never really addressed or emphasised strongly enough what exactly is different. Learning the difference early on can make a big positive impact on your overall university experience. University life, in general, takes time to get used to even when it is positive so preparing more beforehand will make the transition from school to university much smoother.
There’s this module called Science Communications in my degree and here is why it is unironically great.
Before starting the Science Communications module as part of the requirements for completing my final year Life Sciences degree, I was quite conflicted about needing to do it as an aspiring research-minded scientist.
You do the SciComms module in your final year of a Biology/Biochemistry degree (as they both belong to the Department of Life Sciences) alongside your literature project which is equivalent to your final year dissertation at other universities. At Imperial, there is the advantage of doing a research project alongside your lecturers or other researchers participating in cutting-edge research to make a real difference to the current scientific field rather than working individually or just with your peers.
When you’re a student at Imperial, you don’t have to stick just to classes and coursework. You can do many extracurricular activities by joining one of over 300 clubs and societies. As a space enthusiast, I’ve decided to get involved in the Space Society this year.
More specifically, I’ve joined the CubeSat team which meets every Monday evening. Our aim is to make a satellite (for the UKSEDS Satellite Design Competition) which studies a hostile lunar-like environment. I’m currently in the Sensors & Data Handling group responsible for choosing, programming and obtaining meaningful data from sensors.
Huxley Building is on the South Kensington campus and is the main building for computing students. Having been coming to Huxley every day for over a year now, I know by heart how to navigate through the most important points there. However, there are some rooms in the restricted lab area (which I should be most familiar with!) I haven’t really noticed or used until recently and are very useful, either for working or well-being. These are my subjective hidden gems in Huxley.
Reflecting upon my achievements last year and setting new goals for this year
Taking advantage of the New Year spirit is a great way to self-reflect and regain motivation for what you want in life. My goals last year were,
Good work-life balance
Spend more time with family
Emotionally impartial when talking to people and completing daily tasks
Be fluent in Python
Be happy with what I do (biochemistry/AI)
Attend social networking, conferences, follow science trends
so how do they tally up this year?
The good news is I’ve subconsciously managed to complete more than half of those goals despite my depression telling me otherwise, showing that we continue to grow as a person every day even when you don’t notice it.
In heart of Imperial’s recent campaign for Student Money Week I thought I would add a few of my own tips that help me manage and budget my money effectively. The #FindTheBalance campaign run by the university gave some really helpful tips and advice from Student Finance Services and from current students. Here I have compiled some of the most helpful and achievable ideas in one place, so you can come back and reflect should you need to throughout the year.
Keep a Spending Log
It doesn’t have to be pretty and artsy like the ones you see people spend their life designing in bullet journals, but I find it really helps to make a note of everything you spend each week and calculate your weekly outgoings.
Too often people dissociate Art from Science and Technology almost as if it were a field only accessible to the white blouses, natural scientists and engineers. In fact what people tend to forget is that Art is a major driving force of advances in both Science and Social Sciences. Not only is it a mean of communication, education (figures, graphic designs) but it very much impacts how we understand and tackle modern problems. The emergence of biodesigns to promote sustainable fashion through the use of bacterial strains or adaptive building material reflect this. When exposed to the same environment daily, we often tend to forget what actually precisely constitutes it out of habitude.