I have now come to the end of my 10 week medical research placement in the European Astronaut Centre, Cologne. I have had such a fantastic experience there, and can’t thank Imperial and the European Space Agency enough!
Did you know that there are 3 English interns at the European Astronaut Centre out of the 20 or so interns here. And did you know that all 3 of us are from Imperial!?!?! How cool is that!
SO, we have had a tradition at the EAC that interns and staff from each country cook a meal for everyone to share a bit of their culture- over my time I had a Belgium dinner, French, German, Swedish, Spanish…and it was our turn.
You have your undergraduate degree, you’re about to finish your masters and you aren’t sure what to do next. Get a proper job or maybe become an eternal student and apply for a PhD? I opted for the latter and so far I don’t regret (ok, I do regret sometimes, but more about it later).
Doing a PhD is something between studying and working, which surprised me. I expected a similar experience to my previous degrees. I thought I would still study, just the subjects might get harder and more detailed. I was so wrong!
If you want to pursue a PhD in order to explore your area, then I’d discourage you from this decision.
In 3 years’ time, I’ll be graduating from Imperial as an undergrad. Today I got to see behind the scenes of the big day, by volunteering at the Postgraduate Graduation Ceremony.
So it’s about that time of year where you realise if you want to stay at Imperial next year (and you do!) you actually need somewhere to live!
Where to start?!
Okay so here are the top things you should think about
1) Know your budget
This is the key thing to do before you start and will determine which areas you should look in. Remember you’ll now have to think about wifi, gas, electricity, water and transport, if you’re tubing/busing as well.
2) Think about location
So your budget might help you here! Obviously closer to college will be more expensive but don’t rule out nearer just because of that, you might save on tube/bus fares.
Being able to pursue higher education in London has always been one of my objectives on my ever-growing to-do list and quite frankly, I believe the same for many of you guys reading this too who are considering to undertake a degree in London!
It’s very true when they say living in London is costly. But that’s not the point of this post and in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s going to incur some unexpected expenditures, and for me, that is *cues drum rolls*…..
Yes, you heard me right. Food glorious food! I mean, do I even need to introduce this to anyone at all?
When you are a student at one of the best universities in the world (a.k.a. Imperial) you tend to study. A lot. Basically all the time. You accidentally put down Central Library as your home address and drink more coffee than water… (Seriously, my exams are sponsored by caffeine…).
And while you know all the different types of heat exchangers and the derivation of the Navier-Stokes equations, you might forget an interesting fact: that you happen to live in London. The best city in the world. The home of super-amazing-fantastic cultural experiences (theatre, cinema), culinary experiences (restaurants, pubs) and shopping experiences (Westfield, high streets).
Soon you’ll be studying in the UK, but English isn’t your native language. If it’s something you’re worried about, this article is for you.
First of all, if you’re able to read this text without major problems (and dictionaries), you should be fine. To study maths or engineering you don’t need tricky sentence constructions or sophisticated vocabulary. Communication is the key! As long as you can read a textbook and take notes during your lecture (not necessarily understand it, because the content might be the obstacle, not the language itself!), you shouldn’t struggle too much. It doesn’t mean you’re not encouraged to improve your language skills!
One of my highlights this year at Imperial has been the honour of holding the role of Year Representative. All in all, it has been a lot of work. But it has been immensely rewarding nonetheless.
Here’s the actual job description for a Year Representative:
- Act as a voice for your Year Group in Staff-Student Committee Meetings
- Collect feedback from your year group
- Inform your year group of the department’s response
- Liaise with lecturers about tutorials and any other matters
- Organise summer revision sessions
Your reward: Free Lunch during Staff Student Committee Meetings (Twice a Term)
Here’s what I’ve got up to, with the help of my fellow Year Rep, Anthony (AKA A Bold Ant):
- The actual roles stipulated above and…
- Setting up in an informal events committee
- Starting a Weekly Update (newsletter featuring tutorial work, exam dates, social opportunities, puns + a fun picture showing what members of our year have got up to that week)
- Obtaining content for the weekly update
- Emailing the Student Office
- Visiting lecturers officers if they haven’t replied to an email
- Messaging MatSoc Committee members to check when events will be happening
- Creating polls to help MatSoc know which events our year are interested in
- Promoting said events via the Weekly Update
The truth is, you put in as much as you get out.
Everyone has a to do list.
A list of dreams, ideas, and tasks that just have to get done.
But we rarely finish our lists? Why?
Some goals are not SMART? They’re not Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic or Time Framed. But some goals are SMART and we fail to achieve them anyway, or we achieve them inefficiently.
Today I’d like you to stop. Stop making excuses for why you haven’t progressed on the side project you started a few months. Stop deliberating about how to start a dream – just start. And stop doing things just because everyone else is; nobody ever changed the world because they did what everyone else did.
Instead take charge.
It is my personal belief that a good scientist is more than just his own set of skills/proficiencies in laboratory techniques and applications. It is in fact, the amalgamation of several measures, both tangible and intangible traits that often define the “standard” of an outstanding scientist. With this brings me to one of the many such measures e.g. building professional network connections.
How do I go about doing this?
Well, my answer is to participate in social events. Imperial often hosts a whole list of events at its campuses throughout the academic year and one event that I had attended in the past week was the Imperial Postgraduate Open Evening held at the Hammersmith Campus.