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.
Not gonna lie, I was a little anxious about returning to Imperial after the Christmas break. UK Masters programs are only one year long, which is great in many ways (including for my bank account) but time passes incredibly quickly as a result. The arrival of the spring term meant that the pace and level of learning were sure to be kicking up into high gear. Two weeks in however, I‘ve found a lot to love about this second term.
Environmental Technology starts with a core course in the fall, which gets every student on the same page in terms of thinking about the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problem-solving.
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!
Welcome to Round 2 of the Imperial Survival Challenge! Getting back into the ‘zone’ after weeks of slacking off and chilling on the couch during Christmas break does take a lot (especially if you forgot how to write over Christmas :))
Start of Autumn Term
I remembered what the start of the Autumn term looked like. All the “freshers week” events, so-called ice-breakers, socials and “introduction” lectures to the various courses ran through my exhausted mind. The time I got to spend with new faces, exploring the city and attempting to sort out finances (clearly didn’t work for the first few weeks, thanks to my amazing cooking skills).
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.
Similarly to a little bird flying away from its beloved nest, leaving home to come study in a huge city can be extremely daunting for most prospective students. Add to that the many responsibilities (for example grocery shopping, cooking, washing) of an independent life and it is easy to be terrified. However, this is something that we have all been through. Been an accommodation tour guide on the open days and post to discussions with freshers have shown me that many prospective students are concerned about finding a part time job or knowing if it is even possible to reconcile their studies with a job.
Imperial offers first-year students a series of optional courses outside of their degree in design, the humanities and languages, called Imperial Horizons. During my first term I experience some of two of these modules: Nature of Science and Making and Prototyping.
Nature of Science
In the first term I was initially allocated my second choice of course: Nature of Science. It’s a module where we discuss the philosophical and sociological aspects of science. In the first session, we talked about the utility of scientific thinking and the criteria to determine if knowledge is scientific. We discussed the ideas of falsification and the need to attempt to disprove scientific claims.
With all the hype in the media about saving the planet and trying Veganuary, I thought I would do some research of the best Vegan/Vegetarian places to eat around London and give you some ideas of meat-free meals to cook.
Let’s be honest, if you like eating meat and don’t think you could go without it, then Veganuary probably isn’t the challenge for you. I truly respect people who have a diet without any animal products. Saying that, there is no harm in making the challenge more achievable for yourself, maybe trying one or two vegetarian meals, or even days, a week.
Instead of flying back home for the holiday break, I ended up staying in London. Since many of my friends were out of town or spending time with family, I was afraid that I would be unbearably bored— fortunately I found that London has plenty to offer displaced students over Christmas.
As expected from a city where the Christmas lights come out in October, London is overflowing with Christmas markets come December. Whether purposefully seeking one out or stumbling across one accidentally, I loved passing through them for the lights and lively atmosphere.
Staying In Shape
Parkrun, which facilitates free timed 5k runs in the UK, has been a key part of my fitness routine while in London.
Lots of people say that they’re a bunch of rubbish, and that if you want to change, you can do it anytime. I’m a big proponent for them, though. For sure, New Years resolutions come with problems. I’ve been unrealistic with mine sometimes, with crazy past resolutions being hitting 100% in tests, getting 8 hours of sleep every night (never gonna happen, haha), going from a cheese obsessed vegetarian to vegan (I want to, but not overnight!).
New Years resolutions are great because with the start of a new year, the changes you make can be traced back to January 1st, and it feels more significant.