1. Friends – Highlights of my time at Imperial so far include meeting like-minded students from around the world and different cultures. Imperial is a true melting pot and with the current situation we are all back home, separated by mountains and seas. With friends from England, China, Australia, France, USA, Taiwan, I have realised how challenging it can be to catch up owing to all the different time zones. Luckily we have technology to rescue us # teams and zoom. For all those who have continuously supported me, thank you. I look forward to seeing you all in 3D soon!
Pre-coronavirus, I generally enjoyed cooking every night as a way to destress (and save money). Then, during the “spring break” portion of the lockdown when time was at its most unreal and grocery store shelves at their emptiest, I lost interest. Meals during this time tended towards digestive biscuits, large quantities of oatmeal, and raw carrots eaten despondently at my desk. But now that summer term has picked up, I’ve gone back to cooking as a welcome distraction from everything. I find it a bit more of a challenge now that I only buy groceries once a week since I like to make whatever I’m feeling at the time instead of planning meals in advance, but I’m making it work.
A few of my juniors from college asked me about my monthly expenses. I thought I’d share mine here, so I don’t have to repeat the same thing to tons of other people. So yeah, £300, this includes utility bills, eating out, entertainment, groceries and pretty much everything, aside from rent! I still go out to eat every now and then, hang out with friends, buy gifts and all.
My monthly grocery runs would be about £35. I know that sounds crazy but hear me out. One, I eat mostly plant-based. Veggies and fruits are far cheaper than meat products so that’s already a save there.
Celebrating Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020
Kindness comes in many shapes and forms: saying thank you to a key worker, giving someone a slice of your freshly baked banana bread, or even just encouraging your friends. But as life goes on, and we hold the door open again and again or help an elderly neighbour with running errands, we can often forget to be kind to one particular person: ourselves.
With exams, a pandemic and the daily stresses of life, we can get so caught up in being the best person for everyone else. We try being supportive to all of our friends, family and those around us but sometimes we forget about what’s best for us.
Now that I’m back to my little town on the Island of Borneo in Malaysia, how does my workflow look like as I prep for remote exams? Absolutely no one asked me this question but I just felt like writing this so, you’re welcome!
10 am: Rise and Shine!
Those who know me will find this shocking as I usually wake up around 6.30 am every day. The only reason why I wake up this late is that I now have to go to bed at 3 am. The only reason? To accommodate for exam schedules as they are set based on BST.
Fellow coursemates and I were looking forward to our dissertation, the most exciting and final part of a Biology/Biochemistry degree. Biology and Biochemistry both belong to the Department of Life Sciences so have the option to share courses together in the final 3rd year. Unlike having to do a dissertation, you can opt to do a lab-based project instead of a literature review as your final undergraduate assessment. Each individual gets their own supervisor which is impressive considering there are more than 200 of biologists and biochemists combined.
Although COVID has disrupted the chance for half of us to spend 2 months in the lab, our department has responded promptly to student concerns, clarifying the safety net policy College has imposed shortly after government and College lockdown.
Taking charge of your own mental health support.
We have been in a state of nationwide lock-down for a few weeks now. This has understandably taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Some may have managed to cope more than others. However, professional and academic commitments still need to be met even during a pandemic. The pressure from keeping up with that alongside the uncertainty of the current situation may lead to heightened anxiety among students. This can manifest in many ways some of which are erratic sleep, loss of appetite, irritability or panic attacks.
With the pressures from the crisis and everything being run remotely, the access to professional mental health support has unfortunately diminished.
Work and assessments at Imperial are continuous, but completing the final summer exams does feel like a milestone. Ever since my frantic air travel from London to Jakarta, worries, and concerns regarding the future of the summer exams were indeed the forefront concern in my mind. The only indication given in the initial weeks was that the exams were to be “remote, formal and written”. My daily morning ritual was (and still is) to check my phone and scroll through the email inbox to find out whether the daily update emails were of any relevance to me.
Nature and Style of the Exams
Then came a series of emails from the EEE Department regarding the style and nature of the exams and for most modules (Mathematics, Signals & Communications, Analysis & Design of Circuits, Digital Electronics & Computer Architecture):
- The exam papers would be most similar to what we would’ve received under normal exam hall conditions
- The exam paper would be timed for the same duration as a normal written exam would have been for that module.
Seeing that the country I live in is now stuck in a state of quarantine, it’s become impossible to hang out with friends like I used to. However, my high-school friends and I have found a means to connect together over online games. Not online videogames, but online board games.
Despite not being able to play in person, this tool has allowed my friend and I to play together. It’s fantastic, as it simulates an actual 3D playing environment, allowing players to interact with virtual board game pieces including dice, cards and tokens. It’s been a great source of laughter and a good chance to reconnect.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live in just a few days/weeks. One of the consequences of that is the new exam organisation at Imperial this year. Using my own computer at home, I have already sat two remote open-book exams and I am about to have another six assessments in the next 3 weeks.
In this post, I am not going to comment on fairness of the Imperial’s decision to hold remote examinations. What I would like to do instead is describing what they look like in our department.