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.
Are you seriously thinking about a research career? If so, there are many opportunities to try out leading-edge research as an Imperial undergraduate student. Some time ago, I wrote a post about IROP, a programme that allows you to have a research internship at prestigious institutions abroad. Today, I would like to write a few words about UROP, which gives you equally-good placements at Imperial itself.
I know I’m not the only one for which time since mid-March hasn’t felt quite real. The Easter break passed in a dissociative blur and now it’s apparently summer term? It’s been challenging to get back into the headspace of academic work since I‘m still stuck in the same physical space that I’ve been in for a month. But since deadlines don’t stop even though time isn’t real, I’ve been slowly clawing my lockdown life into something of a routine.
I start most mornings with a run in my local park. Running has never been my preferred form of exercise but being able to get outside and burn off some pent-up energy helps me cope with spending the rest of the day in my room.
As my final year exams commence, the end of my time as a student here at Imperial is fast approaching. Three of the best years of my life have flown by and I couldn’t be sadder to be leaving. Don’t get me wrong, Imperial has had its downs as well, challenging exams and plenty of coursework, but there have been way more ups, which have kept me going.
I’m sure this is your 100th time hearing, reading or watching anything that has to do with COVID-19 today, but many people have been asking me about the journey was like and was it safe. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about what I had to go through to finally get back home (it’s a journey that spanned almost an entire month)!
So it first started off sometime mid-March. We finally started to take the whole COVID-19 situation more seriously. The numbers are growing exponentially by the day, all over the world. My parents (in Malaysia) are starting to worry as the numbers in the UK suddenly started growing extremely quickly.
Since self-isolating from Pi Day, I’ve been playing Ace Attorney- the game franchise where the meme came from. Jokes aside, discovering truths in the game doesn’t seem far from the truth from our role as scientists in real life. During this sensitive period, so many hoaxes, memes, conflicting articles and misinformation have been going around, leading to confusion, panic, ignorance and misguided practices. This is why analysing the TRUTH is important, unless you want to get sent the meme.
I am desperately trying to revise but to little avail. The exam season panic has fittingly kicked in. You may ask why I need to revise when all my assessments are going to be open-book. I had the same question. We were advised by our faculty that the exams will be testing understanding instead of simple factual recall. Hence, we need to know the material and understand it sufficiently in order to pass. The faculty has kindly arranged an online mock so we can familiarise ourselves with the platform used to deliver the exams.
Animal Crossing, Tiger King, spending time with family…there are no shortage of ways in which people are occupying themselves while waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic. But Netflix gets stale and many other activities are untenable for a student like myself who is far from the comforts of home. So how does a postgrad stuck in a tiny student flat in London pass time while in lockdown?
The lockdown and the uncertainty of the current climate have taken a toll on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. Some managed to cope impressively well with the situation whereas others might be slightly or seriously struggling. Social media has proven vital to remain in touch with family and friends with whom you don’t live. But, it can be detrimental to one’s ability to cope as it encourages people to compare themselves with others.
If you are managing to remain motivated and productive during these trying times, then this is absolutely commendable regardless of what is motivating you to work. Motivation can take many forms: wanting to self-improve, trying to fill free time and/or trying to escape the current climate.
Engaging, exciting and educational, the optional Horizons module sound technology has been one of my favourite courses this year. The content aims to bridge music and science, starting with the basic physics and biology governing sound and our perception of it, before exploring further into resonance phenomena and the impacts of music on our cognition. We’ve also looked at the artistic side, learning to compose and analyse music with consideration to how anticipation and subversion govern emotional responses to music. Notably, this class has been a massive opportunity for discussion, gaining interesting perspectives from my classmates, lecturers and even visiting presenters who are innovating to change the technology we use to experience music.