My first term at Imperial has drawn to a close, and what better way to summarise my last few months than through the songs of one of the most-loved bands to have ever existed; ABBA.
I Have A Dream
I had a dream, and I am now living it. Two years ago I realised, whilst studying for my undergraduate degree in Maths and Physics at the University of Warwick, that although I enjoyed the science I was learning, my passion wasn’t to delve into further research, but to share my enthusiasm for the subject with others. This led me to Imperial College’s Masters course in science communication.
Attend Lectures and actually listen
A term in university thought me one thing, it’s to attend your lectures and actually listen to the lecturers, (don’t spend the entire 2 hours lecture scrolling through instagram feeds, I made that mistake). Most of the time, you’re probably already tired after a full day of lectures, and weekends feel more like a relaxing day than hustle days. So, I personally find being interactive in lectures (taking notes and ask question) should help a lot in your studying, also some of the lectures are actually really interesting.
Prepare your own meal
I know, this feels like a hassle, especially if all you want to do is sleep, I feel you hun.
You picked Imperial to become a scientist, engineer or a medical doctor. What do these careers have in common? You’ll need to write a lot: scientific papers, grant applications, lecture notes, popular science articles. Unfortunately, university curricula lack writing courses, so we end up with thousands of unreadable scientific papers. In my research I’ve chosen some mathematical methods just because the authors made them easy to understand; nobody has time or energy to look for interesting science hiding behind word clutter.
I’m a mathematician, not a writer, and my writing is far from perfect. Let me share five tips to improve your writing so that you can learn from my mistakes.
Studying at Imperial College can seem like the perfect recipe for falling ill. One part stress, two parts exhaustion and liberal dashes of damp, pollen and air pollution mean that lots of students – myself included – have to deal with being sick in London at some point.
Thankfully, the NHS is around to offer quality care, but navigating it can be tricky, as I’ve since learned. For example, many people think that the NHS is free but that’s not exactly true. It’s free at the point of care. This means that only the services you access at NHS clinics or hospitals are free.
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.
This is the one where I open up.
“Imposter syndrome is a recognised phenomenon, first identified by psychologists in 1978, and describes a feeling that your achievements are undeserved and the fear of being exposed as a fraud. Those with imposter syndrome tend to feel that luck rather than ability lies behind their successes.” (1)
Getting into Imperial was a massive deal for me. I had not planned to apply at all- but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life looking back with what ifs.
I didn’t think I was smart enough. I’ve always had a fluctuating impression of myself; ranging from borderline conceited to possessing a pretty low self esteem.
Years of research squeezed into three minutes? That was the task I and eighteen other participants of Imperial College Three Minute Thesis competition had to face on Tuesday 24th April 2018.
The rules are very simple. Contestants get exactly three minutes to describe their research to general audience, using only one static slide. Sounds easy, but trust me, it’s extremely difficult. How do you introduce your narrow topic, explain what your research involves and persuade the audience that they should care in the first place?
All nineteen of us managed to do that. I learned a lot about a variety of research areas, from planting forests in Brazil, to optimal mixing of coffee and milk, to gravitational waves.
Most people have an incredible facebook account. 500+ friends, tons of photos and videos. However, I’ve stopped using Facebook as a social media platform – there are many reasons why but I won’t go into them here. That said, Facebook is definitely good for communicating with everyone, but beyond I just feel aimlessly scrolling through the posts on Facebook just isn’t healthy.
Instead, I’ve started using LinkedIn and have never looked back since. Students are worried about getting internships. Most of us are anyway. Do not underestimate the power of LinkedIn here. I’ve gotten a fully fledged summer internship at one the largest banks in the world through a simple message from a recruiter, and almost 20 messages flooding my inbox throughout the year.
You may have seen a company called TeachFirst around Imperial during the year. They are a charity that helps schools combat educational inequality due to different backgrounds, (i.e. children from homes with lesser financial background). So why am I talking about them?
For students, they offer 2 programs, an insight program and a graduate scheme. Last April, I got into their insight scheme which consisted of 2 weeks:
- One week training
- One week placement in a school
This was, without doubt, one of the greatest experiences of my life. I understand that many at Imperial/elsewhere look down upon teaching, but hear me out.