In the first week of March, my life was pretty much in the “business as usual” mode. Attending lectures, meeting friends, working on group projects, chilling out. Yeah, nothing special.
In the second week, something began to change. The COVID-19 situation was becoming more and more serious. There was a growing pressure on Imperial to start delivering remote classes as soon as possible. People got concerned about upcoming tests and exams in the last week of term. My coronavirus anxiety increased so much that I started dropping classes to stay in my room in Evelyn Gardens instead (normally, I don’t skip lectures at all!).
After a week of lying around the house, “getting used to” isolation, as I like to call it, and feeling a little bit sorry for myself, I decided it was finally time to start revising for those all important final exams. Except, there was one big problem, I had absolutely no motivation to do much work. I would wake up and just not know where to start, it felt overwhelming that there was so much work to do.
I wanna take a moment to say that it is totally okay to not feel completely normal right now.
Ever since the World Health Organisation’s classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic, a new face of the world was unveiled to us. A world where countries are progressively shutting down borders and locking down. A world where supermarket pasta and toilet roll aisles are ravaged and international capital cities turning into ghost towns. A world that I took for granted.
Taking a step back from this exceptional sanitation crisis and with the social distancing, I realised how elements of what seemed part of a natural lifestyle were in fact blessed treasures: walking in to university daily, picnicking in Hyde Park with some friends, attending workshops, conferences, art exhibitions, socials and the list goes on!
Are you seriously considering a career in research? Do you want to discover new places while doing what you love? Or maybe you just want to spend your summer in an exciting way? The International Research Opportunities Programme (IROP) might be for you! It is an exchange programme which allows you to undertake a 2-month research internship at world-class Imperial partner institutions, with all costs covered by a bursary. This includes accommodation, food, flights and a visa!
Recent international, governmental and institutional decisions have truly shook the face of the Earth. The empty supermarket shelves, the lack of pasta and toilet paper, the closing of universities and borders… Currently on my way home with mixed feelings, my chest seems to weigh a ton but I wanted to share the main highlights of my second term:
I have taken part in a range on events this term: creating Beeswax films with the Ecology society, debating with FemSoc, participating in the FoNS-MAD Science competition, attending the musical Dear Evan Hansen, Biochemistry Ball, Science challenge… The diversity of these have not only allowed me to forge new connections but also engage in interesting conversations such as “to what extent do quotas reflect merit?”
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.
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.
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.
When you’re a student at Imperial, you don’t have to stick just to classes and coursework. You can do many extracurricular activities by joining one of over 300 clubs and societies. As a space enthusiast, I’ve decided to get involved in the Space Society this year.
More specifically, I’ve joined the CubeSat team which meets every Monday evening. Our aim is to make a satellite (for the UKSEDS Satellite Design Competition) which studies a hostile lunar-like environment. I’m currently in the Sensors & Data Handling group responsible for choosing, programming and obtaining meaningful data from sensors.