I have to say I am quite disappointed that I haven’t seen a single snowflake thus far; it seems like I always miss it. First, the snowstorm at the end of December (I was in Oman enjoying the magnificent warmth and sunlight after many a bleak, grey days) and then, the day after I leave Reading, it snows there. It was my first time outside of London (I really should go out more!!). I was visiting a friend of mine who studies there. It was interesting to experience the differences between London and a large town (my friend insists that Reading is not a city, but on the edge of one).
Life has been very busy recently. Once you enter the Imperial bubble it can be quite hard to break out – life becomes an endless cycle of walking to lectures, walking home, studying, sleeping, rinse, repeat. I think it’s very important to burst the bubble once in a while and do non-academic stuff. Yes I know that the library is open 24 hours a day but that is not a good enough reason to spend every waking hour there (not that I have ever done an all nighter but I imagine it’s not that great.) So what do I do when I am not studying worms under a microscope or writing essays in French about whether one can be ‘free’ and still obey the law?
Two attendees on the Natural History Museum field trip to Dorset were parasitologists, and they brought along some herring and a dogfish for us to dissect and look for parasites. Firstly we inspected ‘our’ fish for external parasites such as fish lice or leeches, but every fish was clean. Next we removed the gills and looked at them under a microscope to see if any parasites were attached. Again, none of the fish contained any parasites, leading to complaints of them ‘being too healthy”(!)
The next stage was to open up the body cavity and remove the organs to look for parasitic worms.
Tonight I went to a talk by the Physics department’s artist-in-residence Geraldine Cox. I’d somehow never been to one of her talks or exhibits before, though I had seen some of her paintings around Blackett.
I was actually kind of sceptical about her work at the start of the talk, because although I love poetry and plays and novels and all those kind of English-y ‘arty’ things, I am not really comfortable with ‘art’ in general—paintings and sculptures and such. My knowledge of art amounts to knowing that Monet might have been able to see UV light after he had surgery for his cataracts, and that that might have made his later paintings more blue, and also that Turner did some good sea.
Given the academic rigour and critical thinking required of Masters level degrees and being in such a time-intensive course, I would say we are off at breakneck speed towards the realm of Public Health. I’m halfway through the course already (that’s insane!), and needless to say, little breathers are always welcome. The sun’s out, and I’m in class…sounds a little horrifying to me (on second thought…never mind, the sun is barely out in Londontown anyways. #cheekyplug). In a city like London that is such a cultural and historical feast to the eyes, and constantly lures my gastronomically crazed tastebuds, it is cruel to be indoors the entire time.
Last Wednesday I helped giving a tour around campus for 6th formers here for medical interviews. It was a lot of fun, but above all really nostalgic. Memories of my interview and applying to Medical School in general came flooding back. This gave me the idea to write a bit about my experience, and what the experience is like in general applying to Medical School. I hope current medical students can read this and think back to their own experience whilst prospective students can see that they’re not alone. Any one else not studying Medicine can read and see the ordeals we suffered.
Last Thursday was my last exam for the year.
Sadly I still have two assignments to hand in this Thursday, and I must say, this exam season has been an all-time low in terms of stress. It’s like the stress was so much that I literally shut down and my mind couldn’t concentrate on anything. Usually I’m the annoying one who’s still reading right up until the last minute. Yep, I’m that person who enters the exam hall still trying to get some last minute information in, prepared to keep reading until the examiner says, “Put your flashcards away!” That’s me.
Dorset is the location of some fine geological sites, known as the Jurassic Coast, and designated as a World Heritage Site so we spent a day there with Richard Twitchett, a geologist from the Natural History Museum. The evening before Richard gave an overview of some geological concepts and an introduction to the geology of the area.
The rocks of this area are the sedimentary type, which are formed by accumulation of material compacted and cemented together over millions of years. These type of rocks may contain fossils of plants and animals that died and became trapped and preserved between the layers.
When we last left our intrepid hero, he was deep in the catacombs of Maple coursework, fighting to factorise some worryingly large semi-primes. Now, suddenly, it’s suddenly 2015.
Wait, it’s 10:49.
After the initial wave of panic that I had missed my morning lecture passed, it dawned on me that it was still on winter break. Gone (at least temporarily) were the days of running to morning lectures whilst gorging through a mystery mix of whatever fruits I could find in my kitchen shelf. No more having to micromanage laundry, dinner, and problem sheets on a daily basis.
The Natural History Museum organises a field trip in Dorset for its postgraduates each year, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get out of London and spend a weekend in the countryside. A group of PhD students and post-docs from a variety of disciplines set of to the Old Malthouse on the Isle of Purbeck (which is not a proper island but a sticky out bit of the southern coastline of Britain).
After settling in at our accommodation and being fed a good lunch we set off to Hartland Moor National Nature Reserve with Museum botanist Fred Rumsey. We were introduced to the plants that inhabit the Moor, and I was particularly excited to meet Dorset Heath Erica ciliaris, a type of heather, which I had not seen before.