In light of recent developments, I thought it’d be good to share some thoughts as an International Student here. The situation at home (Malaysia for me) and here in the UK seems to be developing at a similar pace, with numbers rising day after day. There are a lot of uncertainties at this moment, especially regarding borders; the possibility of a lock down both here and back home.
From all I can see, the expansive coverage by social media and traditional media in general, fear mongering is real and it’s undoubtedly spreading panic to the general public. What I’ve decided to do, is to limit the COVID-19 information that I am exposed to, on all my social media.
Science is improving the world with new discoveries, but should we consider their sociopolitical implications?
I will attempt to answer that using anime. Before you cringe about how someone could compare storyline in a 2D world to our very real 3D world, the series I’m covering has not just advice relating to Imperial but on how as scientifically-minded jobseekers, the way we view the world is important.
All is One
In Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (FMAB), alchemy is considered a field of science. The plot is set in a pre-WWII context and follows two brothers. During their training to become alchemists, they were chucked to a desolate island to find the meaning behind alchemy.
I haven’t written a blog since I have come back in January, and I’ve realised why. In all honesty, I have really had a horrible term. It is beginning to look up, but a lot has happened that has made me hold off on blogging. I have had amazing experiences at this uni, but for the last eight weeks I’ve really struggled to see the positive from all the rubbish that has made me ultimately hate being here for a bit. However, I wouldn’t have published this if I didn’t have a positive spin on my awful second term. While I’ve hit my lowest points a few times, I’ve been proactive and have made some changes which are beginning to make my uni experience less terrible.
After paying the second half of my tuition fees, it’s fair to say that money has been on my mind a lot this week. One of the reasons that I chose to come to the UK for grad school was the cost. Higher education in the US is infamously expensive and, unlike my undergrad degree, I would be taking on the price of grad school entirely myself. Even factoring in the exchange rates, the cost of a UK MSc was still far less than one from back home. Pretty much a no-brainer to study here, right? However, as an international student, choosing to pursue a master’s degree at Imperial rather than another UK university has been its own financial challenge.
You often hear from older peers or professional guidance about how different university is from school but it’s never really addressed or emphasised strongly enough what exactly is different. Learning the difference early on can make a big positive impact on your overall university experience. University life, in general, takes time to get used to even when it is positive so preparing more beforehand will make the transition from school to university much smoother.
Back home in my international school in Indonesia, things were really different from Imperial in many ways. One of the most striking differences was the reputation of owning a Macbook. Would anyone here at Imperial even believe that my school in 2015 had actually proposed a rule “strongly encouraging” (practically imposing) the use of a Macbook as opposed to any other device? A lot of parents actually complained against this new policy and drafted petitions against this imposition and as a result, the school silently softened its stance. Nevertheless, my school has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for two consecutive terms (6 years).
When you hear students talk about how broke they are, I can 100% say they are probably not over exaggerating. For those of us who live in London, this statement is especially true.
Growing up, most of my friends’ older brothers and sisters worked part-time at the local McDonald’s or Subway to make that extra cash during their uni days. Naturally, I also thought I’d follow the tradition and began stressing over whether or not being a cashier at KFC was a respectable job. When I got to year 12 I started thinking bigger.
I was smitten with myself. None of my other friends had come up with that idea.
There’s this module called Science Communications in my degree and here is why it is unironically great.
Before starting the Science Communications module as part of the requirements for completing my final year Life Sciences degree, I was quite conflicted about needing to do it as an aspiring research-minded scientist.
You do the SciComms module in your final year of a Biology/Biochemistry degree (as they both belong to the Department of Life Sciences) alongside your literature project which is equivalent to your final year dissertation at other universities. At Imperial, there is the advantage of doing a research project alongside your lecturers or other researchers participating in cutting-edge research to make a real difference to the current scientific field rather than working individually or just with your peers.
For the first few weeks, I had a routine going – I got up an hour before my 9am classes (a huge change from waking up 20 minutes before), made myself a healthy lunch, actually managed to get some breakfast down and was up to date with deadlines. I had enough time to see friends and go on a fun night out and I also saved some time at the end of the day to read a little just before bed. Boy, was life going great.
Honestly, I don’t really know what happened after the third week.
The option term is going by at light speed, which means that it is nearly thesis time. And while the course conveners have been quick to tell us that we have plenty of time to sort out projects and not to get too stressed out, I have, in fact, been stressing out about it. In particular, the process of choosing a project idea has been intensely frustrating for me. I would describe it as running on a sort of hamster wheel that cycles through several stages.