I took a day off from studying to visit the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, South East London. The museum has been on my ‘places to visit list’ for sometime, and I was particularly looking forward to meeting its famous walrus specimen, which even has its own Twitter account.
Since rain was forecast we decided to look around the grounds of the museum before heading inside. The building is in the arts and style and was founded in 1901 by Frederick John Horniman. The wall features a mosaic called Humanity in the House of Circumstance.
The museum has extensive gardens which include a bandstand overlooking the London skyline and some farm animals.
It absolutely surprises me to realise that no matter where I go, I take a piece of its experience with me, even if I may unconsciously do so. Let me explain, but before that, let me set the backdrop.
Public Health, particularly Global Health, is such a dynamic, interdisciplinary field that by the time Friday comes around, my brain is low on fuel after having interconnected all the concepts from economics, health policy, global governance and innovative entrepreneurship. I love it, of course – life is no fun without pushing your horizons and challenging yourself to learn outside your comfort zone.
Often people will say they don’t understand my blogs, so this one is split into three bits (imitating nature as we shall see) depending on how much physics you care to know.
Bit one: the standard model
The standard model is a theory about our best knowledge of particle physics to date, and it includes a toolkit of particles with which you can build a universe from. Each of these particles has different properties, but there are lots of patterns and links between them (just like the periodic table in chemistry).
There are two types of particles overall- the ones that make up stuff– the matter particles, and the ones that make the stuff do stuff– the ones that carry the forces.
If you know me at all well, then you will know that I’m unapologetic in my love of food. There are a lot of student stereotypes that I do fall into (nap time = all the time, forgets to do laundry until only option is to wear pyjamas in public, stays up too late, leaves assignments until last moment) but one that I don’t like is the ‘students can’t cook’ stereotype. I love to cook. The way I see it, I have to eat, I have to take time out of my day to eat and if I’m going to spend fairly large chunks of my day preparing and eating food then I want that food to be delicious.
For the final day of the Natural History Museum postgraduate field trip we were off to look for aquatic invertebrates and algae, first in some freshwater and later at the coast. The first stop of the day was at the Corfe River where we had a great view of the ruins of Corfe Castle, an 11th Century fortification built by William the Conqueror (and popular destination for my childhood holidays).
Eileen and Polly demonstrated the technique of kick-sampling, where you hold a net under the water and kick the sediment for a set amount of time, this dislodges animals living on the river bed and they are then collected in the net.
Since I want to do science communication, there aren’t that many long-term internships that I am actually interested in, at least not compared to people who want to be various shades of banker. My boyfriend wants to work in insurance though, so I’ve seen two pretty different sides to applications for internships and work experience.
Both have their pros and cons—science communication is a very diverse field so it can be hard to find places that take interns, whereas it is easy to find a list of insurance companies with open summer schemes, but the applications for these are normally completely noxious.
What was the first word that came to your mind when you saw the picture above?
That was my word. Now you think I’m crazy, eh? Why on earth would a busy intersection in the middle of chaotic, central London full of impatient drivers waiting to get home after a long day at work scream ‘bliss’ to me?
As crazy as it sounds, its an association of ‘home’ to me; a sense of belonging. As a typical Third Culture Kid, I can’t quite pinpoint a city to call my ‘home’ . But over the years, in my head, I’ve come to identify ‘home’ as a metaphorical place where I find solace amidst constant chaos.
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.