Sorry I’ve gone so long without writing–I’d descended feetfirst into the rollercoaster of emotions that constitutes exams season. Just kidding, your emotions don’t really rocket around during exam week. You won’t have emotions. Everything you hold dear will melt, slosh around, and consolidate into a little ball of stress ricocheting around your head. Embrace this–this is good! Stress has been empirically proven to be more dense than airy emotional baggage. It’ll leave space in your head for an extra biochemical pathway. Take your pick: lipid beta oxidation? Reductive biosynthesis? Amino acid catabolism?
We have been getting results back from our formative exams/tasks over the past couple of weeks and I recently received this question:
“Dear Mala, I heard that every first year medic fails January exams at Imperial. Is this true because I don’t want to fail. Do first year medics even do any work?”
In short…the pass rate was around 58% in our year. For those of you that don’t know, formatives are basically “mock” tests that we have to gauge how well we are doing so far. They are supposed to give everyone a metaphorical ‘kick up the aorta’ and thus work harder.
Time seems to have flown by. It’s kind of strange to think that I’ve been back at uni for three weeks and I still haven’t started lectures… Due to the generous amount of study leave I’ve had, I’ve pretty much been sat at my desk for the past two and a half weeks trying to learn the order in which primates evolved and get my head around Michaelis-Menten kinetics. I can’t lie, I haven’t massively enjoyed my courses so far this academic year and it’s been tough. BUT exams are finally over and on Monday I’m starting my favourite thing ever, the main reason why I chose this subject… cell biology and genetics.
The last week has been fun—one of my friends from home came down on Tuesday and we went to see Taylor Swift in the O2! One of the best things about living in London is that you don’t have to force people to come and see you—they come themselves for the attractions and then can sleep on your floor. Taylor, as I now affectionately call her, was brilliant—a very professional performer and though she did talk some rubbish in between her music and dancing she was so compelling about it that I was completely swept along.
Tubing there was easy—straight from labs to North Greenwich tube station, but unfortunately by the time we were heading home the infamous tube strike of last Tuesday/Wednesday had begun so we and a million other confused pop fans were stranded at the O2.
There have been a few phrases that I have adopted since coming to University and they have been detrimental to my bank account balance and lifestyle choices. ‘I am treating myself‘ or ‘I deserve this’ have been absolutely awful. When I walk into Sainsbury’s and see a large Lindt bar on the shelf calling my name I manage to convince myself I need or deserve a treat…which is never, ever the case.
Another great phrase is ‘you’re only a fresher once’. Because…it’s true. It is an excuse to do pretty much anything ridiculous as you have the excuse that it is all part of a ‘fresher experience’.
I just realised I haven’t told you anything about my lectures this term! So much for this being an informative and insightful blog about life at Imperial…
We are now almost three weeks in, and the structure of the term is starting to reveal itself. Firstly I have Wednesdays and Friday mornings off, which makes my week very on-off intense, with nine ‘til six on a Monday and nine ‘til five on a Tuesday and then a day of pure pure rest. I have fewer lecture courses than last term to add to the relaxation—Sun, Stars and Planets, Electromagnetism and Atomic Physics, which you should read as interesting, awesome and evil respectively.
I went to a talk on thursday by Grant Miller who works for Zooniverse, a citizen science website. He was a great speaker, and the talk was very interesting so I thought I would share some of it with you, and also address some of the criticism of this and similar projects.
If you haven’t heard of it before, the idea behind citizen science is getting the public to help sort through scientific data. This can be all kinds of things, from pictures of animals taken by motion-sensitive cameras in the Serengeti, to the different kinds of whale song.
If you have been following my blog for any period of time you will know that I frequently like to talk about the lack of women at Imperial. As most of my friends will tell you, this is something I feel pretty strongly about (no for real, even if they care 0% about the gender ratio, I rant about it so often they will still be able to tell you why it can be hard to be a woman here). I do think it’s important for Imperial ladies to stick together and to know what to expect so here we go, from one female to fresher to (hopefully!) another.
So, interviews have started. Yipee!! We have seen lots of fresh faced applicants wandering around SAF and it has been pretty exciting. I was having a think about things that I wish I had known when I was getting ready for my interview and I hope that this will help you guys (this is only my opinion though!).
1) Why do you actually want to do medicine? No seriously. We know you like people and that you hope the world will be cured by your skills…but that’s not a full answer. Come up with something original and really think about it.
Today I started a new lab cycle on Charges and Fields. There are two experiments in it— Millikan’s famous oil drop experiment to measure the fundamental charge of the electron and measuring the Earth’s magnetic field. Both of them are quite simple ideas (observing how oil drops are deflected in a capacitor and watching the deflection of a current carrying wire respectively) but they are both difficult to carry out accurately and get good results. Also they are done in the dark.
I am doing the floating magic oil drop one. I have a vaporiser to squeeze in a spray of oil droplets between the capacitor plates, a power supply to adjust their motion and a microscope to squint in at the tiny tiny little floating dots.