It’s crazy to think that its already been 3 years since I was moving into halls to begin my Mathematics degree at Imperial. Carting box after box into my new room at Beit hall, to say I was nervous would have been an understatement. Coming from a small all girls school I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t even know if I remembered how to make friends… but not for long. Life at Imperial was so busy, from a challenging academic course to tons of clubs and societies there was hardly any time for me to even spend worrying!
As the summer term draws to an end, it’s a good idea to summarise what it was like for me. This time was exceptional since it was my first encounter with full remote studying (apart from pre-pandemic self-learning episodes with text tutorials and YouTube educational videos).
Compared to autumn and spring terms, the number of modules for second year computing students was much smaller. We only had to work on a group project and the introduction to law module.
The project was called “Designing for Real People” (DRP). In groups of 4, we had to create a web or mobile application that solved a real-world problem.
One of the absolute highlights of my time at Imperial has been taking part in M3T, a module offered in the Mathematics department that is titled “Communicating Mathematics”. This project module basically involves spending 1 day a week in a secondary school during term 2 of your final year. Since the secondary school I attended is very nearby to Imperial, I was lucky to do this project there.
During my first 2 or 3 visits I spent most of my time just observing lessons. During the term I would be focusing on 3 groups of students, Yr9 middle set, bottom set Yr11 preparing for GCSEs and a Yr12 Further Maths class.
Imperial is challenging. Every Imperial student can tell you that. But some people REALLY struggle with their degrees. I am one of those people. Imperial was not what I expected and I have had a love-hate relationship with this degree. Before I leave Imperial, I want to share my up and down journey during the course of this degree because it really hasn’t been perfect, but I have almost made it and I know you will too.
I really loved maths. There is no other way to describe it. Between my four A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry, I spent over 70% of my time doing maths or calculations of some kind.
At 10:55am yesterday, I clicked submit on my final ever exam paper. In my head I had always dreamed of this day. We would finish our exam and head to the union. We would bask in the sun on Beit quad before enjoying some well deserved curly fries and pints.
Instead I found myself sitting at my desk staring at the paper and notes all over my desk, (thank you open book exams), I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. It felt a little anticlimactic. Here I was, finishing my last ever undergraduate exam, basically finishing my degree, just sitting at my desk staring at the same blank wall I have been staring at for the past 10 weeks.
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.
Huxley Building is on the South Kensington campus and is the main building for computing students. Having been coming to Huxley every day for over a year now, I know by heart how to navigate through the most important points there. However, there are some rooms in the restricted lab area (which I should be most familiar with!) I haven’t really noticed or used until recently and are very useful, either for working or well-being. These are my subjective hidden gems in Huxley.
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!
Insights on time management, making friends and self-care
Many Imperial students such as your departmental Mums and Dads (a support scheme of older students) would tell you that Imperial has a “work hard, play hard” culture – drink on weekends, study hardcore on weekdays. This is not necessarily true as you are the one in control of your uni experience. It’s also impractical if you cannot stand working for long hours. Moreover, not drinking seems like a social disadvantage since the most notable weekly event at uni bar FiveSixEight is when all sports societies head down after practice to chill. There’s so much going on, academics, socialising…- the people are one of the best things about Imperial – so how do you make the most of your time here?