Am I the only one here who feels that time has gone by so fast and wishes the clocks would rewind, just so I could smell the roses?
Anyway, it is official. Five months into the MSci Immunology course, and I am literally a week away from completing the first half of the degree. It most definitely feels surreal at times like these, where I attempt to pen my thoughts and reflections in a hopefully coherent and logical manner especially so, where much has occurred.
In short, this post was evoked by my sentimental self where I was perusing some images taken during the course and I thought: hang on one second, why not document this through some images here!
So Ladies and gentlemen, here it is…
Image 1: Dr Sophie Rutschmann (Course Director of the MSci Immunology course) teaching the basics of flow cytometry (Look it up!) to some of the peers during the Mini-Research Project where pairs have to work together in designing a novel experimental setup in answering their scientific question of interest!
The majority of invertebrates hibernate during the winter, since they do not produce their own body heat like mammals and birds it is too cold for them to be active. However, 10cm under the ground the soil is often a few degrees warmer than the air and many soil animals are still active, including earthworm, so I am still busy out in the cold and rain digging them up for my PhD research – I recently found 16 earthworms from a 20 cm x 20 cm soil pit at a farm where the soil temperature was 4°C!
Frosty but sunny day for earthworm sampling
When temperatures fall below 0°C and water in the soil freezes many earthworms simply burrow into deeper layers where they can survive but earthworms which live on the surface instead rely on chemical defences to tolerate cold temperatures.
Firstly, a disclaimer. I am in no way trying to slander Imperial College London and the Physics department. They are being very supportive and understanding of my newly developed situation. This is more of a personal account of what’s been happening in life, because answering the question ‘Hey, you’ve not been around…what’s going on?’ gets tedious a hundred iterations in.
Around June, I had my last two exams of first year postponed to the September re-take period. I spent a healthy chunk of the summer revising and felt on track to do just well enough to be ready for second year.
What better way to spend a Friday afternoon than packing a minibus? After two days of annoying the union and five minibus swaps, we finally had roof racks and set off to grab the 8 extra boats we needed from Heston. Four stalls later, Noah hadn’t killed either of us and we were many a boat heavier. As a perfect coincidence, we then drove by Sacha’s house just as she needed picking up and began the process of minibus Tetris. Both buses had left by 6.30 and we successfully rendez voused at Warwick services after a lovely shout out to the twats with the boats from the closest thing we could find to Flex.
Until recently I had no troubles to explain what I was studying; I was just an average Maths student. I could predict the reaction of a person informed about this fact: “How can you do that? I’ve always been hopeless at Maths. And I think teaching is boring.” Things got much more complicated since I have started PhD studies at Mathematics of Planet Earth (just to clarify: not all mathematicians end up teaching in schools!). First reaction is usually the question used as a title to this article. After a brief explanation that I am learning how to use Maths in climate and weather predictions, I just get a reassuring statement: “I know that this whole climate change thing is very dangerous/rubbish”.
In first year, when I walked past the rowing stall at the freshers fair I dismissed it with a simple “i’m not getting up that early, ever”. I’d always admired rowers for that, they seemed to train constantly, at godforsaken hours, yet still be on top of everything. I proceeded to waste most of my first year doing absolutely nothing. I didn’t get properly involved in any societies, didn’t make any great friends and in general spent far too much time messing around in halls and doing coursework than was strictly necessary.
This year, when I walked past the rowing stall I thought, if I can muster the discipline to handle this in my schedule, I’ll work more effectively and have teammates that I’d see regularly ( = friends!).
The MSci project is, in some ways, a culmination of years’ worth of studying, in which you apply all the skills you’ve slowly acquired during the past few years of toil. With Imperial participating in such a vast range of research, it offers a similarly broad spectrum when it comes to choosing a topic for your final year project. As a sample of this variety, I thought I’d write a (short!) background of the area that tempted me. Enjoy!
Did you get accepted to Imperial College? Congratulations! Now it’s time for the real challenge – finding a place to live in London. Something nice, clean, quiet and close to the campus.
Well, unless you’re a millionaire, I don’t think such a place exists. If you’re based at South Kensington campus, you probably won’t be able to afford living close to the college, since its neighbourhood is one of the most expensive parts of London. The only exception: student halls, which are offered only to undergraduates, so not for me L But worry not, you aren’t doomed! Everyone finds a place, sooner or later.
There are some weeks when life overwhelms you and you can only just keep your head above the water. Even after you’ve recovered, it somehow takes monumentally higher courage to get back into the water.
Today, I jumped in. And it was fun.
After living in halls for four months with the world’s most zealous kayaking enthusiast, I finally bit the bullet and came along to a session. After back to back lectures, a lunch time committee meeting, labs and a Horizons French lesson, the thought of trying kayaking vs work was a no brainer.
You decided to cycle in London. Good choice! The benefits of commuting to the uni by bike are countless. Let me list just a few.
You save money. Plenty of money! Assume, optimistically, that you live in zone 1 or 2 (i.e., in the centre or quite close). Then the monthly travelcard will cost you £126.80. For this amount of money you could buy a decent new bike, a second-hand one would be even cheaper. So the bike will pay off in just a month, maximum two, if you decide on a fancy one! Do I still need to persuade you that it’s worth it?