Yesterday I came home for Christmas. Being home is both weird and wonderful.
Weird because first term can’t possibly have gone so quickly, and because living in a village is a bit quiet after London.
But wonderful because I love home: cuddles with my cat, having my family around, making plans to meet up with friends who I haven’t seen for ages, being looked after by my mum, telly (I caught up on Downton Abbey this morning, in time for the Christmas special!) Also, I finally have time to stop – this term has been crazily busy, and while it was mostly crazily fun, having time to catch up on sleep is good too – you can only survive so long on caffeine…
The problem with having spare time is having time to be ill.
My friend Andrew loves Christmas, so it would be cruel if I didn’t let him visit the Winter Festival at the Southbank Centre after the trip to Tower Bridge (although mercifully I avoided taking him to see the Christmas lights in Oxford Street this year!).
After enjoying some traditional roast Chestnuts by the River Thames I said goodbye while I spent a few days finishing up some university work before heading home for Christmas and the New Year.
On the 16th December the PREDICTS team had planned a Christmassy day which included a visit to our neighbours the Victoria and Albert Museum where the joint-museum choir was performing.
As I mentioned in my first post, I actually had a whole post about my experiences over the first few weeks. Here’s part 1 of 2 (respecting chronological order of course) !
A barrage of languages greeted my ears as I walked into the college bar. After completing my backbreaking ten mile journey from the suburbs of north-west London to Imperial, I suddenly felt as if I had entered a different world. Three weeks into the term, the wide diversity of people on campus is still astonishing.
But let’s backtrack .
Fresher’s Week has been elevated to an almost mythical status by students across the UK, but it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s an experience unlike anything else.
Only one day, one tutorial and one lecture to go before Christmas holidays! We had our house dinner yesterday, which was awesome, but this blog is on something a bit different…
Basically, I was trying to listen to a lecture on matter reacting to magnetic fields, when I noticed a great tweet by symmetry mag showing their paper snowflakes in the shape of famous scientists. They look amazing, but are pretty intricate, and I don’t have a craft knife—also I was pretty sure I could make them even more nerdy, so I decided to come up with my own science inspired snowflakes.
I haven’t posted about French in a while so I thought that now would be a good time to talk about Horizons. If you select the average biology second year and ask them their opinion on Horizons, you will most likely be met with a loud groan and possibly screams of horror. I’ll say off the bat that in the life sciences department and I think a few others as well, doing an extracurricular Horizons course becomes compulsory after first year and counts for credit, meaning that the marks you get go towards your overall degree. I don’t want to freak anyone out by saying this but what I will say is that as long as you choose your course carefully, you don’t have to be filled with terror at the mere mention of the word ‘extracurricular’ and I actually quite enjoy my course.
Studying in London gives plenty of opportunities for ‘going tourist’ and visiting attractions in London, so for a treat after two busy weeks away in France my friend Andrew visited and we went to see the Tower Bridge Exhibition. The Exhibition had been in the London newspapers recently as it had just opened a glass floor on the high level walkways, giving views from over 100 feet above the River Thames, and so we wanted to pay a visit – despite Andrew being afraid of heights!
Tower Bridge is in the eastern part of London so it was exciting to see a part of London I am not familiar with, emerging from the Tower Hill underground station we saw the Tower of London – another attraction on the list to visit while I am here studying.
Barely recovered from the First Global Soil Biodiversity Conference in Dijon I was back to France the week after to attend the Joint Annual Meeting of the British Ecological Society (BES) and the Société Française d’Ecologie (SFE), in Lille Grand Palais, Lille, from the 9th to 12th of December. This time I was not only presenting my poster but attending as a BES student helper which not only gave me free entry but would increase my confidence as I would have a ‘job to do’ and be working with other student helpers (my supervisor calls this ‘activity-based socialisation’ and it is ideal for introverts and those with autistic leanings).
• MATLAB coursework due on Friday
• Thermodynamics deliverable due next Friday
• 3 Problem sheets to be completed this week
• Complete Mastery Sheet 2
• Revise for Christmas test
• Figure out Properties of Matter
With every passing day, my work pile grows exponentially (my Maths lecturer should be proud that I am using his lingo). I do not even know where to begin. Should I waste five hours puzzling over MATLAB and going nowhere or should I try to comprehend quantum physics? It seems that both tasks should be made into one of those Mission Impossible movies.
The last couple of weeks have been… interesting. To start with the negatives, mice have invaded my house. They have chewed though the sink (!) and broken it, as well as tore up the bin in the bathroom and woken me up in the night with their horrible scratchy mouse feet partying in my bedroom. Our landlord has ordered us some electronic mouse repellers which I am slightly sceptical about so I have ordered in addition a whole host of things designed to get rid of mice.
I would like to do an experiment to see which ones work as they have so many mixed reviews, but the fact they are in my bedroom adds a level of urgency and drives out all thoughts of being a good scientist, so I will be deploying all methods at once!