It’s barely two months into my PhD research and I have been to an international conference in France to present a poster on my research. This was the First Global Soil Biodiversity Conference held at the Palais des Congrès in Dijon, for four days between the 2nd and 5th of December. I find conferences really scary, which is part of my motivation to attend as many as possible during my research to increase my confidence in presenting my research and networking. The week before I attended a very helpful course on networking organised by the Imperial College Graduate School so was armed with techniques to get the most out of the conference and to reduce my anxiety.
As a ritual of the usual first post shenanigans, let me introduce myself to Imperial College London’s blog readers.
I’m a current Master of Public Health (MPH – Global Health) student here at ICL from…wait, don’t ask me that. I won’t be able to tell you my hometown…you see, I’ve been moving around too much and am a typical Third Culture Kid (TCK) where I identify with too many places as home. So my usual formulated response to people is that ‘I’m Singaporean, but Indian at heart and went to college in the USA’.
If you think I must be sick of moving around by now, not quite.
Technically, this is my second blog post.
It’s the first one you’ll be reading.
Well, I could pretend I’m the next Chris Nolan and that this is all part of my grand plan to create an anachronic blog which will eventually make sense when someone in the far future decides to piece it all together. In reality, it’s more an administration issue and this blog will most likely continue in chronological order after the first two posts.
With that out the way, I’m proud to say that I’m officially an Imperial blogger! I’m Abhishek, an aspiring mathematician with a list of interests far longer than it should be.
I think I might be the only person I know who wishes Christmas wasn’t so soon.
Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE Christmas. Christmas trees are appearing everywhere (including one that randomly appeared on the kitchen table today); Secret Santas are being arranged; and I’m having lots of Christmas dinners in the next few weeks with lots of lovely people. But I still don’t want Christmas to come.Kitchen Christmas Tree 🙂
By Christmas, I will have finished my first term at medical school.
Meaning that I only have 17 terms left, which suddenly doesn’t seem very long to learn a lot of stuff.
“This is Victoria”, the now familiar recorded message says as I step off the train at my namesake station. “Yes. Yes, it is”, I think to myself.
I am one of 28 students starting PhD research at Imperial College’s new Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet (SSCP) Doctoral Training Programme. This is hosted by the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, although most of my research is at the Natural History Museum, one of the SSCP partner institutions, where I was based for my MSc last year. I will be modelling human impacts on soil biodiversity, combining two of the things I love most: playing with computers and digging for earthworms!
As I wave goodbye to my tearful mother, it finally dawns on me that I am actually going to live all by myself in a completely new environment, that I will have no choice but to become independent. Which means washing the dishes, grocery shopping and (gasp!) doing my laundry all for the first time. You might think I should add ‘cooking for myself’ to that list but-I am not going to lie to you- I cannot even boil water. Therefore, throughout my three weeks in London, I have depended on cereals, sandwiches and pizzas-in short the diet of a typical student.
I turned nineteen two years ago. Instead of heading off to university, I spent two years in the military. The story of why that happened and more importantly, what happened during those two years is best reserved for another blog post.
The important thing is that by the time university arrived, unlike most people who had a relatively smooth transition from one academic phase to another, mine was pretty extreme. Have I also mentioned the fact that I am an international student? That meant being away from home too.
Woah, I just checked my timetable and we’re in 9th week? How did this happen?! Time has flown by. It feels like not that long ago I was on the CU stall at freshers fair handing out free washing up liquid to slightly dazed looking freshers. The amount of deadlines that I have coming up are making me cry inside a little but there’s still a lot to look forward to in the remaining three weeks and I’ve had such a lovely weekend.
On Saturday, I went for Thanksgiving dinner at my friend’s house. There are a few American students at my church so they educated the rest of us about Thanksgiving traditions and cooked us the most incredible dinner, including the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen, mashed potatoes, candied yams (essentially, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top that make a crust when you bake it in the oven.
I really was not one of those people that “wanted to study medicine since I was 2 years old and had a toy doctors set from my parents”. In fact, I wanted to be a librarian/café owner/ hotel owner for the early years. As I grew older (not taller), I managed to build up a giant selection of teddies. These were soon to become my unexpected patients. My teddies and dolls went though the most horrific traumas and it was my absolute joy to care for them. Granted, the traumas were normally part of some sort of crazy game me and my siblings would play: for example one time there was a “fire” in the bedroom and we had to “evacuate” all the teddies.
I’ve been taking part in a Bloomberg journalism class over the past couple of weekends, and this week the homework was to write a blog about our real passion: what we would still spend our time doing if we had all the money we wanted. As you might have suspected, mine is science, so this seemed like an ideal blog for me to post here as well…
Super-energetic super-massive black holes spinning billions of light years apart, from across opposite ends of the universe, seem to have somehow aligned themselves. Time freezes as your spaceship approaches such a black hole.A quasar!