When you are a student at one of the best universities in the world (a.k.a. Imperial) you tend to study. A lot. Basically all the time. You accidentally put down Central Library as your home address and drink more coffee than water… (Seriously, my exams are sponsored by caffeine…).
And while you know all the different types of heat exchangers and the derivation of the Navier-Stokes equations, you might forget an interesting fact: that you happen to live in London. The best city in the world. The home of super-amazing-fantastic cultural experiences (theatre, cinema), culinary experiences (restaurants, pubs) and shopping experiences (Westfield, high streets).
A list of dreams, ideas, and tasks that just have to get done.
But we rarely finish our lists? Why?
Some goals are not SMART? They’re not Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic or Time Framed. But some goals are SMART and we fail to achieve them anyway, or we achieve them inefficiently.
Today I’d like you to stop. Stop making excuses for why you haven’t progressed on the side project you started a few months. Stop deliberating about how to start a dream – just start. And stop doing things just because everyone else is; nobody ever changed the world because they did what everyone else did.
It is my personal belief that a good scientist is more than just his own set of skills/proficiencies in laboratory techniques and applications. It is in fact, the amalgamation of several measures, both tangible and intangible traits that often define the “standard” of an outstanding scientist. With this brings me to one of the many such measures e.g. building professional network connections.
How do I go about doing this?
Well, my answer is to participate in social events. Imperial often hosts a whole list of events at its campuses throughout the academic year and one event that I had attended in the past week was the Imperial Postgraduate Open Evening held at the Hammersmith Campus.
Last year, my average week looked something like this. This year has been *quite* different… So here is my average Spring Holiday, #revision, #messedupsleepingcycle day 🙂
04.30am Time to go to bed… 😀
01.00pm It’s always nice to wake up and realise that you’re already late for lunch, let alone for breakfast. But nevertheless, I had breakfast, a laaaarge coffee and some vitamins to boost my brain. Or for placebo-effect, who knows…
02.30pm Checking emails, writing emails, answering emails. I mean, if you work as the Comms Assistant for your Department you sometimes get random emails like a lecturer writing “Hi Dora, could you please do a photoshoot of my research group because I heard you are good at this” which just sort of… makes your day 🙂
03.00pm After much procrastination, it is time to start some actual revision.
March arrives and it’s time for the annual Natural History Museum (NHM) Student Conference! I am on the student committee and so help with the organisation. There’s a lot to do organising a conference but we learnt from last year and with new members on the team it seemed a lot less stressful this year! Despite the stress and extra work being part of a committee and helping organising a conference is a great opportunity to learn useful skills and make contacts, so I highly recommend getting involved with one if you can.
Talks are compulsory for 3rd year PhD students like me so although I had spoken at the two previous years’ conferences (I need the practice :\ ) I was yet again up on stage. It was quite fun actually as last year I talked about developing my citizen science project Earthworm Watch which was just about to launch, now it has been running a year so I was able to give the first results from the project.
As a prospective student, I once wanted to know what a typical day for an EIE student was so here is my version!
Living in Wilson House as a hall senior I wake up at 8:00am to get to a 9:00 am lecture.
Wilson House is conveniently ~25mins from the SK campus and the walk is visually captivating since you walk through Hyde Park! For those from countries which are really full of nature like me, you probably won’t get what the big deal is to have a walk though a park.
But a park like Hyde Park in a city like London is not easy to come by, so living in a hall that allows you to enjoy this walk everyday is amazing (except during the winters 😀 )
8:00 – Grudging roll out of bed – too early for Electronic labs or Computer Labs
8:30 – Walk to uni
9:00 to 12:00 – This is usually some sort of labs in 2nd year (in first year you enjoy the great life and have labs in the afternoons!
Apologies for the highly controversial title, but I am sure any aficionados of science irrespective of disciplines would have found themselves at this ubiquitous crossroad at some point of their scientific career. For the fortunate ones, this might not have happened too frequently but for the ones who are constant worriers on how decisions can have a lifelong impact on themselves even beyond the scope of childhood ambitions, this dilemma seems evermore pertinent.
Perhaps, it might have been induced by the late nights spent camping out at the library whilst revising for the finals, or from another perspective, it might have been inspired by a talk from a senior or someone of a certain degree of expertise.
The one thing which kind of describes how I feel right now is that I looked at the calendar and I realised it’s March. MARCH. MARCH?! I honestly don’t know what happened in the past 5 months. I was trying to think of things I did, but I just feel like I procrastinated away 5 months and now I am so behind with everything that even my to-do-list making apps want to cry… So what happened in the past 5 months?
Labs. We started and finished second year labs. This year we were only doing 1 experiment for 3 weeks.
Am I the only one here who feels that time has gone by so fast and wishes the clocks would rewind, just so I could smell the roses?
Anyway, it is official. Five months into the MSci Immunology course, and I am literally a week away from completing the first half of the degree. It most definitely feels surreal at times like these, where I attempt to pen my thoughts and reflections in a hopefully coherent and logical manner especially so, where much has occurred.
In short, this post was evoked by my sentimental self where I was perusing some images taken during the course and I thought: hang on one second, why not document this through some images here!
So Ladies and gentlemen, here it is…
Image 1: Dr Sophie Rutschmann (Course Director of the MSci Immunology course) teaching the basics of flow cytometry (Look it up!) to some of the peers during the Mini-Research Project where pairs have to work together in designing a novel experimental setup in answering their scientific question of interest!