I’m sure that your English is fluent enough for you to study in the UK (if you aren’t confident, take a look at my post about studying in English). I’m also sure that you’re able to communicate with international students withouth any problems. But do you understand what locals, i.e. English people really mean? It took me a while (and a few awkward situations), so here are a few surprising things Brits say.
How are you? You’ll hear this question dozens of times every day. In the beginning I thought: “wow, these Brits are so nice, they really care about me”.
So here I am a few weeks into term and, like hundreds of other new students, I’m trying to get to grips with the new routine and understand what’s expected of me, what are my priorities, balancing the early beginnings of my course-load with the host of other opportunities & activities available. How do I settle quickly into a new routine? That seems to be the most pressing question. Well a good starting point is getting into College each morning, which itself depends very much on the question of deciding where to live and finding accommodation (and I’ll have more to say about that process in a future blog…) For the time-being let me just confess that despite my number one criterion when flat-hunting being a maximum of 30 minutes walking to Imperial, I somehow ended up near Vauxhall Bridge- about 6 km away, taking at least a good hour’s walk.
“Are you crazy? Going to university in your 50s! What on earth are you thinking? But you’re already a grand-father, why do you want to become a student?”
These were not the actual questions people asked me; they were normally much more polite and restrained when I told them that I’d be going off to do an MSc in Sustainable Energy at Imperial College in London. “How do you feel about becoming a student?” was the typical question I was asked many times by family and friends in the run-up to the start of term. How to start answering that? Excitement? A sense of adventure?
Some people were just born public speakers. Others are terrible at it, they suffer from stage fright and should just avoid talking to crowds altogether.
That way of thinking is very convenient but, unfortunately (or fortunately), not supported by facts.
Most of us have attended some presentations or watched TED talks that left us with a feeling: “Wow, this guy knows how to get the audience’s attention! I’m so jealous, I wish I was like him/her”. What if I told you that this guy isn’t “a natural”, but has been working very hard to sound so? What if I told you that you can give talks that people would enjoy listening to?
It’s not a secret that grad school might be dangerous for mental health. In recent years people started to talk about it openly, numerous studies on this topic have been done (eg. on suicides or depression). The awareness of mental health is rising, which definitely makes it easier to get help when needed. However, this isn’t the full story.
A few years ago I started to consider a possiblity of pursuing a PhD. So I googled around – big mistake. Phrases such as “grad school mental health” returned thousands of websites suggesting that the coming years will be filled with pain and tears.
In some ways I have an advantage as in addition to my Asperger Syndrome diagnosis I have a long history of anxiety and depression going right back to my early teens so am already equipped for dealing with mental health difficulties. Here is what I have found:
This weekend I was back at The Regent’s Park helping with their project Mission Invertebrate. This project is funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery and is investigating what invertebrates live in The Regent’s Park and how this relates to where the Park’s hedgehog population lives.
The project is a citizen science project – members of the public have been recruited to take soil cores, put in pitfall traps and count the number of slugs and snails in a set area. Myself and my colleague Anthony Roach were helping the volunteers identify the invertebrates collected in the pitfall traps. This involves picking each invertebrate out of each pot, identifying and counting them, and then putting them into a tub of alcohol to preserve them.
I have to say that I was really, really nervous about completing a placement in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G). Being involved in the care of a soon-to-be mother and their precious unborn baby is a huge privilege and responsibility, and up until 5th year it is pretty easy to not have to have dealt with the complications of pregnancy in clinical practice. O&G was a whole new ball game for us medical students.
I was attached to the O&G team at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for 7 weeks. We began our attachment learning about the basics and what to do in emergency situations; completing simulations as well as learning from patient experiences.
I was thinking today about the advice that I wish I had known before I had started applying for medicine. It really is a bit of a long road to get into medical school and takes a lot of determination and work to get there. You have hurdles with work experience, entrance tests like BMAT, writing your personal statement, getting your grades (and predicted grades), securing an interview, doing well at interview… the list is pretty long. But it is so, so worth it so don’t let this put you off at all cause it all does make sense!
Broadly…medical schools are looking for:
A genuinely kind person who wants to be a doctor
Someone who is smart and willing to put in the work when they don’t understand concepts
Someone who they would want on their team/want them to be their doctor
Right so let’s break this down a bit and show where the above hurdles come in!