Happy Chinese New Year everyone! It’s the joyous time of the year again but for the second year, I won’t be able to return home to my family back in Malaysia for Chinese New Year. This is essentially the most important celebration all year, where all members of the family from all corners of the world return back home, cooking up a feast together in the kitchen, sharing good laughs and cracking jokes about each other’s antics since young. Ah such joyful and heart-warming times. Since we can’t skip classes to return home, (I’m not suggesting any of you to do this yeah 🤣) here’s what I’ve come to figure how to recreate your own reunion here right in London!
Its the end of first term and with second term just around the corner, I find myself packing my suitcase with a slightly heavy heart. The last time I was packing for uni, I had no idea what was waiting for me but I knew it was going to be exciting. Fresher’s week came with new friends and experiences and, surprisingly, so did the weeks following it but sadly, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The last few weeks of the term came with fewer lectures and a lot more exams and when the exams ended it was time to go home.
Cramming is inefficient but sometimes continuous studying is not gonna happen. There’s no denying it, Imperial like any other research-intensive university requires the utmost diligence to time management, you have coursework, social club activities for downtime which means you need to learn how to prioritise your independent studying – which is the most important part of your course, often worth at least 50% of your degree if not more (for Life Sciences it is 75%). In a way, it’s great because it gives you more time to prep and to give your all after the holidays but because of how vibrant life is at Imperial it also means you don’t have time to study!
Studying at Imperial; one of the best universities in the world, is certainly not easy. It can get tough sometimes. Catching up with lectures and tutorial sheets, meeting report deadlines, rushing projects, all the while trying to maintain a decent social life and sleep. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? It doesn’t help that I’m the kind that cannot stay still and do one thing at a time!
“You’ll only focus on studying and not join anything else this term!” It’s been 3 terms and it certainly hasn’t worked out AHAHAHAH. I TRIED but at Imperial, there are just so many exciting things to do!
When I was on my first year, I remember every single second year people said, second year is gonna be tough. Two weeks in, and I feel great, I feel better than ever.
You know why I feel great. I spent my first year, trying to figure out the person that I wanted to be, doubts and all. In the process, I jeopardize my academic record, and I had to push so hard a week leading to exam week, that I felt like my body are disintegrating. I slept in one of the exam room, during the exam. The worst thing that could happen on exam week happened to me.
Coming to Imperial was honestly surreal for me, it felt like a dream, and when I woke up it was exam time, and I had to fought tooth and nail to survive. Until I was actually in London, there was always a possibility at the back of my mind to back out. I wanted the easy path, the “I know I can ace every single class”, which was why Imperial was sort of my second choice. Yes, you heard me, it was my second choice, despite the fact that tons of people are dying to get in.
I know from the beginning, that Imperial would be hard, so I lost hope since the beginning.
And just like that third term is over! In keeping with my previous end of term blogs I thought I’d stick to tradition, but this time use songs from some of the best-loved Disney films to round up my final term at Imperial.
We finally reached the practical option term of the masters course and I chose to take courses in radio and documentary. For radio, I produced a short piece about cultured meat and together with some course mates, produced a short documentary called ‘the sun shines for everyone’. It was an incredibly busy term with not much time for reflection as it progressed, but looking back on it now I learnt so much and gained experience to aid me in the future.
I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I participated in the Three Minute Thesis competition. According to tradition, the winner judges the contestants in the following year, so on Wednesday I had the honour to sit next to prominent science communicators and watch excellent young scientists explaining their research in… three minutes.
This year the Graduate School replaced the Three Minute Thesis competition by the 4Cs Science Communication Competition. Although the idea is similar, there are some differences:
- Not only PhD, but also MRes students could participate.
- While Three Minute Thesis contestants could use only one static slides, this year almost everything was allowed: Power Point presentations, props and whatever else they were able to carry on stage.
There are many aspects of the science communication course at Imperial that make it so enjoyable, but perhaps the freedom we are given is the most rewarding part. In our assessments we are given an element of free choice in what we centre our arguments around, which allows for a great deal of creativity and expression. One of the most daunting free choices I’ve had to make in the last few months has been the topic for my dissertation.
The parameters were simply ‘choose anything that is related to science communication’. Having studied this area for the last 8 months I can confidently say that there is a lot that could be explored.
At such a busy time of year, scrolling through the news doesn’t always seem to make things better. A 2018 study reported that over half of Americans find that the news causes them stress, anxiety, fatigue and sleep loss. Although it is important to stay informed, particularly on news stories that require urgent and collective action, sometimes a bit of good news is what we need.
This inspired Emily Coxhead to create ‘The Happy Newspaper’, an online and print publication to ‘share positive news and wonderful people’. Her newspapers are released quarterly and can be delivered or picked up in several locations across the UK.