Watching cat videos can give you a Nobel Prize.
Well, Ig Nobel, to be precise, but still sounds impressive. That’s what I learned thanks to our Graduate School.
I just came back from the Ig Nobel Award Tour Show 2018 hosted annually by Imperial. Ig Nobels are awarded every year at Harvard University by actual Nobel laureates. The only criterion is: the research first makes us laugh, and than think.
Having attended the show last year, I suffered from a stomach pain after laughing too much. The “goat man”, Ig Nobel prize winner in Biology who decided to become a goat for a few days, still makes me giggle.
I don’t come from a background in science – my Bachelor’s is in History and I’ve spent the past five years working in marketing – so I often get asked how I’m coping with doing a science degree like Public Health.
And the answer is: not too badly, so far. At least judging from my results for term 1, especially statistics and epidemiology.
Part of this is definitely down to pure elbow grease: extra hours rewatching lectures, consulting YouTube tutorials and making sure I got all the homework done. But thankfully, it’s also because postgrad education is more about the application of technical knowledge to the real world than whether you can memorise formulas.
In this blog entry I would like to start by briefly comparing my previous impressions of the educational systems in Germany & UK. It’s not that easy, it’s actually like comparing croissants with Berliners. Both quite tasty, but fundamentally differently conceived. I would like to emphasize at first that these are only my personal impressions. Of course, the factors outlined beneath cannot be generalized to whole systems. Hence, no system should be put in a bad light.
The concept at the Imperial College is fundamentally different from my educational institution. We have lectures and examinations over a period of six months.
If you’re thinking about studying maths at Imperial, you might be wondering what kind of problems first year studenst are supposed to solve in the tutorials. Last term I was a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) for a course Probability and Statistics I. Let’s see an example of a question posed by the lecturer, prof. Emma McCoy.
Imagine that n people, including yourself and a friend, are seated at random in a row of n chairs. What is the probability that you sit next to your friend?
This problem is easier than you think, especially after following the lectures. I’ll explain how to tackle this problem here.
27th January was the date, Imperial College Union was the stage – for one of the biggest events of the year; the 2018 Imperial vs UCL eSports Varsity. I decided to pop along and see what was going down. Admittedly, I know little/nothing about eSports but luckily there were enough avid fans that explained the rules and procedures that I gained some understanding!
The varsity event was hosted by the Imperial eSports society (https://www.imperialcollegeunion.org/activities/a-to-z/esports), a relatively young society. However, their membership is growing, and so are the size and quality of their events – this was their second ever varsity event and it was an impressively professional set up.
We can all agree that Imperial has great neighbours. On the same street, you find some of the most stunning museums of London: Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Science Museum, all of which are free to enter.
Natural History Museum
If you love nature, animals and science, you cannot miss the Natural History Museum. You’ll be impressed viewing their dinosaurs or experiencing an earthquake simulation in a Japanese store.
Last Friday after class, I visited the NHM as it was hosting a special evening event about the Blue Planet II TV show. I’m a huge fan of this BBC series that manages to capture the wildlife in the planet’s oceans with the latest technologies and innovative filming methods.
It’s holiday season, Christmas lights everywhere, happy wishes in every corner, warmth and love in every single person around and for most students time to go home.
So, since I am just like most students, I partied to celebrate the end of term, and then partied again because it’s Christmas. Which led to a few very productive days of hangover doing absolutely nothing but Netflix – like you should. With all the partying and it’s consequences checked off my to do list, it’s time to catch a flight (right after doing laundry, miracles may happen but that’s just in Easter, right now your cloths won’t wash themselves).
Living in Halls
I present to you- Woodward (WW) a.k.a #DiamondofImperial a.k.a Alaska (because it’s low-key a trek from campus).
In case you aren’t sure how it works, all first year undergrad students are guaranteed a place for accommodation as long as they accept Imperial as their firm. I received an invitation to apply for accommodation in July- you get to choose 5 preferences but these are all ranked equally.
My halls consist of three blocks: B, C, and D (I’m not quite sure what happened to A). Block D is arguably the place to be- where the kitchens have panoramic views. *Insert heart eye emojis* At WW, all the rooms are ensuite and we’ve also got an on-site two storey gym, music rehearsal rooms, study spaces, a common room complete with pool and foosball tables, etc.
One term down, seventeen to go.
Something I was often told during Freshers’ Week (or Freshers’ Fortnight for the medics) was that my six years at Imperial will fly by. I saw no truth whatsoever to that statement at the time.
However, now that the winter holidays are finally upon us and January exams are alarmingly close- where exactly has first term gone? Honestly- what happened? The wrath of medical school interviews have begun for brave souls across the country, and it’s odd to think that it’s been a year since I was in that position!
After much procrastination and a degree of reflection, I finally pull myself together enough to write up my very first blog about my past 11 weeks at Imperial before it all becomes a blur to me.
It’s not a secret that grad school might be dangerous for mental health. In recent years people started to talk about it openly, numerous studies on this topic have been done (eg. on suicides or depression). The awareness of mental health is rising, which definitely makes it easier to get help when needed. However, this isn’t the full story.
A few years ago I started to consider a possiblity of pursuing a PhD. So I googled around – big mistake. Phrases such as “grad school mental health” returned thousands of websites suggesting that the coming years will be filled with pain and tears.