or not…? Three years on
Imperial is challenging. Every Imperial student can tell you that. But some people REALLY struggle with their degrees. I am one of those people. Imperial was not what I expected and I have had a love-hate relationship with this degree. Before I leave Imperial, I want to share my up and down journey during the course of this degree because it really hasn’t been perfect, but I have almost made it and I know you will too.
I really loved maths. There is no other way to describe it. Between my four A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry, I spent over 70% of my time doing maths or calculations of some kind.
As final year undergraduate, I’m marathoning towards the end of my life at Imperial as I shall depart for a different university for my postgraduate studies, scribbling away on neurotransmission in the nervous system and hoping my insights would somehow come to light by an aspiring researcher, and musing on my time here in between breaks…
What I’ve achieved The ability to exercise academic freedom and encouraged to be critical. Being critical towards science advances it and we should always question knowledge on how understanding can be improved or different ways of looking at a problem.
What I enjoyed I used to swim competitively at school, so even though I’m not good enough to try out for the College swim team I enjoyed a casual swim during first and second years.
In the summer before Year 13, my family decided to take me university hopping around the UK. We’d go to different cities, stay at a local hotel, attend an open day, explore for a day or two and then move swiftly on to the next. Sometimes we’d visit 3-4 unis back to back – no stops, just songs blasting from the car speakers and my dog jumping up at every red light. I felt like a traveller (minus the caravan).
Back then I had no clue what I was going to do. I’d always wanted to study medicine, but I just wasn’t sure if I was passionate enough to dedicate 5-6 years of my life to one subject.
If you’re a first year student, sorting out accommodation is straightforward: a place in an Imperial hall of residence is guaranteed in nearly all cases. The situation is different for returning students though. They can’t live in first-year halls unless they find a vacancy (you have to be lucky here) or become a hall senior. Because of that, most returning students decide to live in private accommodation. However, there’s an option to continue living in halls without taking responsibilities of a hall senior or hunting for vacancies in first-year halls. It’s Evelyn Gardens, a set of three halls (Willis Jackson, Southwell, Holbein) located just a 15-20 minute walk away from the South Kensington campus.
Since time hasn’t existed since March, it feels utterly unreal to be actually working on my thesis right now. Nevertheless, from now until September you can expect to find me knee-deep in air quality reports and R scripts. My project is desk-based so fortunately the overall research process hasn’t been impacted too much by the pandemic. Still, remote thesis work has required its share of adjustments:
Given the current pandemic, all of our learning has been moved online. The most readily apparent impact of this is that our physics exams are now remote and open book. This is a welcome change, at least for me, as I always found the need to memorise content for exams a bit redundant, when in real physics work we will always have access to reference material.
Additionally, all of our tutorials and other meetings are conducted over video call. The efficacy of this has been mixed, in some cases people are quite open to working over call, using video when possible, while others seem to be able to sit in a breakout group call for 15 minutes with their microphone muted, trying to avoid putting themselves out there.
Finishing online exams and my top tips
At 10:55am yesterday, I clicked submit on my final ever exam paper. In my head I had always dreamed of this day. We would finish our exam and head to the union. We would bask in the sun on Beit quad before enjoying some well deserved curly fries and pints.
Instead I found myself sitting at my desk staring at the paper and notes all over my desk, (thank you open book exams), I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. It felt a little anticlimactic. Here I was, finishing my last ever undergraduate exam, basically finishing my degree, just sitting at my desk staring at the same blank wall I have been staring at for the past 10 weeks.
Yes, it is yet another corona-related blog. I hope you’re all okay during such trying times.
Clubs, Societies & Projects (CSP) are integral to the student experience at university. At Imperial, we have over 340 CSP. They are all run and led by students for students. I decided to write about how a CSP committee is elected usually elected and how elections occurred this year
Some background details
The Clubs are mainly for sports. They play both competitively in London-wide and national leagues, and casually for social participation. Clubs is often used interchangeably with Societies which is a term used to describe any student group.
When you’re a student, it’s good time to start serious thinking about your career development. CVs, cover letters, interviews, internships, graduate schemes… all of these can be daunting for someone unfamiliar with the professional world.
Thankfully, Imperial doesn’t leave you alone with that as Careers Service offers you all necessary career development support. Don’t underestimate its value! In my case, Careers Service has proved useful several times already.
The range of available services is wide. There are lots of online resources, e.g. the CV writing guide and interview preparation tips. Additionally, you can book one-to-one tailored sessions, where you get personalised help with job applications and interviews.
For any regular readers of my blogs out there, you may have noticed my slightly long absence from writing. To say that I’d been struggling with ‘writer’s block’ would be a fairly accurate description. For weeks I kept thinking “What do I write about?” and even though I’d start the occasional blog, I could never finish anything and I’d end up ditching them as drafts. I spoke to a friend of mine who’d come across my blog and he said “Why don’t you write about not having anything to write about?” – so that’s exactly what I set out to do.