I’ve never really been much of a “library revision” kind of person. Something about how silent libraries are gives a chatterbox like me so much anxiety. To top it off, I’m also that annoying friend who constantly disturbs everyone else’s revision to show them memes because clearly quality memes are most appreciated when you’re nose deep in a textbook (to all my sixth form friends, I’m sorry guys!).
However, university has hit me differently. I might as well not be paying for accommodation at this point considering how I spend the majority of my time on the fourth floor of the library – and yes, for all those aunties out there, I swear I’m actually working!
IC Hack is an annual hackathon held at the South Kensington campus. It is the biggest student-run event of this type in the UK. I had a chance to take part in the ‘19 edition and I felt very lucky then. Getting a ticket to go there is insanely difficult as they always sell out in a few seconds!
You may wonder “What is a hackathon?”. Usually, it is a 24-hour non-stop event (yes, non-stop, meaning hardly any sleep at night) when you team up with other people to create something innovative from scratch, using new technology and possibly other knowledge.
In October 2018, DoCSoc (Department of Computing Society) looked for someone who could be a Beit Hall guide for people coming for undergraduate interview days in my department. I quickly became interested in the role because it was a nicely-paid job and a good opportunity to strengthen my social skills. Having been selected very soon after applying, I worked from November 2018 to February 2019 (excluding the Christmas break of course).
My task was simple: on every interview day (always a Wednesday) between 2 and 5 PM, I had to conduct a hall tour for groups of candidates and their parents, showing them a common room, a kitchen and my own room (an en-suite single) and answering any questions they might have.
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!
Important factors to consider when flat-hunting in London
Before coming to Imperial, I was concerned about how there is no campus accommodation after your first year. However, this offers flexibility for you to decide how you want to live. There are many options, living alone, with friends, in halls…so what are some factors you must consider?
Staying in halls close to campus
If you haven’t gathered the courage to find friends to live with, don’t worry. Evelyn Gardens is an accommodation for returning undergraduates that has similar layouts to first-year halls, letting you make friends with people on your floor whilst having your personal space in one-person bedrooms.
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?
Whilst my first two years at Imperial could be largely summed up by my extra curricular activities, coming into third year I have decided to focus my attention on my degree in order to secure that 2.1. (I’m not that academic :/ )
With this in mind, my first step was to decide what activities I would continue into final year, and what would sadly have to face the chop. Having been elected President of MathSoc, I knew that this would be my biggest focus and would take up most of my free time.
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.
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.
Studying in one of the most expensive cities in the world is one factor that affects people’s decision to study at Imperial College. Rest assured it can be done, but particularly for students like myself who are undertaking a one year master’s course, the different funding options means that money can sometimes get tight. An upside of the course though, is its flexibility in allowing its students to have part-time jobs. Indeed, most students from the Science Communication Unit have part-time jobs, myself included.
I have previously mentioned my job as an Observatory Explainer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, but have not delved into many details.