Recently a story came up on my Facebook newsfeed about the University of Cambridge’s ‘Defend Education’ group starting a campaign called End Week 5 Blues. It’s essentially a campaign to add a reading week to the middle of their very short (just 8 weeks!) and very intense semesters to give students a breather and time to get on top of things before starting the second half of term. Many of you will have read the heart-wrenching article that did the rounds in October of last year where a Cambridge student told her story of how the intense academic pressure of attending one of the world’s top-ranked universities lead her into a difficult state with her mental health and, eventually, to drop out altogether.
I haven’t blogged in over a month. And almost every day I’ve thought to myself ‘I’m going to blog today’ … and then haven’t. On the plus side, I now have LOTS to blog about. (Translation: a long list of excuses for why I haven’t blogged.) (DW – I’ve added lots of cute cat pictures so you don’t get bored!)
Term 2 is now well underway; it’s both better and more effort than the first term. Better because we’re learning about the body systems rather than all the boring A-level-with-added-enzymes stuff we did last term. More effort because we’ve had loads of assignments.
I was chatting with my friends about PBL today and it got me thinking about the different views I had on PBL before I came to ICSM and how its changed.
PBL is Problem Based Learning. At Imperial I have been taught in this way for one of my modules (funnily enough the module is called…PBL). It is basically a 2-3 hour session every 2 weeks in which you meet up with your extended tutor group of 10 people and a tutor and go through a case.
In the first session we all read through the case below and talk about it…
“Mrs Iron has come to A & E with a swollen red hand after doing some domestic jobs.
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’ Nothing describes life at university better than this quote by Dickens. Here at Imperial, I had the best experiences in my entire life and, frankly, not so good ones. But the highs definitely outweigh the lows. So here is my perspective of life at Imperial.
How university differs from high school:
Quite simply, it is all down to you. Whether you want to attend lectures, tutorials (aka seminars) or solve the problem sets, it really is all up to you. There is a greater sense of maturity which could either be good or bad.
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.