Tom and I went Christmas Shopping at Westfield yesterday. It was…interesting. There are a LOT of people shopping at the moment!
Category Archives: London
I got a new phone yesterday. I had the old for two years and it was starting to get a bit broken. (Also known as couldn’t talk to anyone because there was so much static. Ugh.) Unfortunately, I accidentally ordered the phone to go to Notting Hill Vodafone instead of High Street Ken, a result of a late night on Tuesday trying to get some coursework done. I decided that Notting Hill wasn’t so far away from Imperial, and walked there in the snow, afterwards going on to Paddington. It was a nice walk – I found a shop that had chandeliers in it, which had proper actual candles instead of light-bulbs! If I was rich, I would have bought one.
Anyway, see photos, taken on the new phone (which is about to revolutionise my blogging…it has a WordPress app! Watch out, blogosphere, here I come).
I was going to do a blog on scientific posters, but I ought to wait till I have permission from my professors, cos I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post it on t’internet, especially as it has not yet been marked.
Ciao for now!
PS If anyone was wondering, the Christmas Tree from a previous post was from “Fire and Stone” Pizza in Covent Garden.
Earlier in the week I promised a little something to do with A level results and my own experiences. It morphed into a 5000 word MONSTER, which made a brief appearance yesterday, got removed after an email from the Blogging Master, and has now been ever so slightly changed, to be better (and to be in smaller, more manageable chunks. Part Two coming soon).
I’d like to point out that this is all based on my own experience, with the experiences of a few of my friends added in and highlighted to get everything across. If I’ve missed out on anything or said something absolutely nobody agrees with a) tough, and b) I’m really sorry – send me a comment/email and I will rectify the situation. The same goes for answering any questions.
If you’ve logged onto the Imperial website and stumbled across this blog for the first time, you can find out about me here. I’ve got a variety of other pages relating to Materials etc, feel free to peruse them!
If you already know me, you will know that photos and I have a weird love/hate relationship – in that I love putting them up, but I hate editing them to make them suitable. I will be finding some relevant ones, but it might be after Results Day, in which case it’s pointless. Some of those I have put up are repeats, but no less applicable, and let’s be honest nobody really pays attention to them anyway, so I’m not too worried.
Anyway, grab a cup of tea, a couple of biscuits, a comfy duvet, and let’s begin…
Results – ahhh!
This time next week, A level students (my target audience for this post) across the country will be opening the envelopes that tell them all about their future, and where they will be headed in about a month, or just under two if you get into IC (unless you are doing a gap-year, in which case you don’t have to worry about this for a long time, and you can stop reading).
Depending on the stakes, and your own personality, this can be terrifying. It was for me. I knew I’d struggled a bit with revision, and I’d been ill for one of the exams, but hadn’t bothered with the extenuating circumstances form because it was ‘only music’. I needed ABB to get into Imperial, with my A being in either physics or maths. I spent most of Year 13 maths eating Skittles with Toby, so I knew that wasn’t happening, and it all rested on the Physics.
My parents took me to get them (I think, this was a long time ago, ha!) and the feeling of terror as I looked at the Physics grade and read that it was a B was horrible (the other two were also B’s – no surprises there). Worse, I’d missed out on the A by 1 measly point. An urgent conference with the wonderful Mr Cuthburtson was held, we sent off for a re-mark, and I headed back to the Zamsaf office with mum to sit on the UCAS website refreshing the page every 30 seconds, with that horrible feeling of suspense every time the page was loading. To make matters worse, Ashton was still in Zambia (I had just returned), so we had to do the same for him as his hadn’t notified us either.
By lunchtime, the status under my Imperial application still hadn’t changed, but I had been accepted into Queen Mary (although I had decided by this point that if I didn’t get into Imperial, I wasn’t going). Tom and Naomi had both got theirs, and knew they were in, so I knew that something was up, and was convinced I hadn’t made it. I spent much of the day on the phone to Charlotte, a friend from home who was also already a student at IC, and was in London on that day. She kept me feeling a bit optimistic throughout. One point!! I eventually got on the phone to the Materials Department, prepared to fight my case (ONE POINT!!!); they kindly informed me that I had got into the BEng instead of the Masters and could stop worrying. After a brief yelling and screaming fit around the office (“I GOT IN, I GOT IN!!!!”) I went back to Toby’s to start a night that ended notoriously badly, and shall never again be mentioned.
Ash went through some different stuff, but the long and short of it was that he ended up on the same course, and we were all set to go together. Luckily the course is common for the first two years – we had adequate marks by the end of the second year, and are both on the MEng, which we’ve been happily chipping away at for a year now.
Incidentally, when the re-mark came back I had an A by eleven points. Someone screwed up on the original, that’s all I can say.
Anyway, when you get your results, if you’re lucky, you will already know if you got your place. The universities get them before we do, so a lot of people had checked before 11 am, and knew they were in. Some don’t update for a while though, and it can take a long time (of soul-destroying suspense), so this isn’t necessarily an indication of anything.
Opening that envelope is a life-changing moment, and one you will remember for the rest of your life.
What if I don’t get my offer?
I know things are different this year – I was reading in the Metro this morning that IC doesn’t have any spaces left for Clearing, which will make it difficult, because it is probably the case for quite a few universities. They implied that if you don’t get your grades, that is it. I’m not sure if I believe this, because it is a newspaper, after all, and I never believe anything in the newspapers, but still.
If you don’t get into the course you want to this year, don’t think it is the end of the world. There are so many things that you can do to make a gap year worthwhile, even when you didn’t think it was an option before. Get a job, work for six months and then go travelling – whether it’s around the world or across a couple of countries in Europe. It’s the only time in your life you get to do it without worrying about getting a job etc later.
When you get back, you can apply to your place again, with the advantage of knowing exactly what your grades are, and having a load of life experience to talk about as well – especially if you’ve never really had a chance to get a job or go travelling before. It’s a great CV builder! The risk is that you might decide you like it too much to bother with applying to uni, which will be a great shame, so try not to do this…
If you still want to go, and you can get a place on a Clearing course but you know it’s not something you will want to do as your career, I’m not sure it matters so much. Loads of my friends are on Materials for one reason or another that relates to “I didn’t want to do Materials but I got in and thought I may as well” (I actually don’t know many people for whom Materials was a first choice…I definitely win there, I’ve wanted to do it since I was like 16). A few who were convinced they would hate it have ended up on the MEng, and others have gone on to a PhD, a management course in the USA, a job in a university in Korea…
To add to this, Lucia has told me to add that if you apply for a Clearing course, you should ring the university rather than email and wait. When she applied, she spent hours and hours waiting for a response, started panicking because there was nothing from anyone and other people were getting offers, and eventually bit the bullet and rang IC. She didn’t want to do Materials initially – applied for Natural Sciences and was also considering Forensic Chemistry, but got an offer from IC, one of the best universities in the world, and went for it. She has gone on to the MEng as well, and has discovered a love for nanomaterials that may never have been discovered.
Your parents can be instrumental in helping you make the decision, even if you don’t think it’s a good one at the time. As Lucia’s parents pointed out, IC wanted her, and she would have been crazy to say no. At the time, you may think they are being annoying controlling so-and-so’s, but they are nearly always right.
I did Music, Maths and Physics for my A levels – if I hadn’t been such an arrogant idiot, I would have dropped Music and taken Chemistry further. Unfortunately, my dad tried to talk me into doing this, and I thought I knew better than him and did the opposite. As it turns out it didn’t really matter (though I haven’t used my A level music really), but it would have helped a lot in first year. This was in no small part due to my pride – I’d told my violin teacher I was taking A level music, and by God, I was going to take it. I should have swallowed it and done what was right for me, but I didn’t.
My dad always used to tell me that getting a degree was almost more important than the degree you did. He used to go on about a Foundation Degree, and at the time I was like “WTF mate, like, I don’t care” (I was a bit of an immature teenager…I’m totally mature now, honest) – but it was good advice. Two of my friends want to convert to a graduate medicine programme – one of them applied to do UG medicine, didn’t get in, did Biomed instead and is now going to do the transfer. Another did Materials, and has decided he wants to do medicine and is going to do the transfer when we finish our MEng.
Medicine isn’t the only one – you can do loads of graduate programmes which don’t really relate to exactly what degree you did – one of my other friends has gone on to do a chemistry PhD after Materials. Like I say, there are guys in management now, and others who have done a club or society at uni and instead of doing anything to do with their actual degree, their jobs have ended up being something they learned extra-curricularly. I know someone who just got a job at Radio 1, and he did an engineering degree because he wanted a good foundation first.
The other thing you can do if you get onto a course you don’t really think you want to do, is do it and transfer later if you want to. A guy who just graduated from my course started out doing ChemEng, after one year transferred to EEE, after two years transferred to Materials, and graduated six years after he started at IC. I’m not saying you should go in planning to do something like this, but it is a possibility, and it reminds you that it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out exactly as you planned.
I’m a great believer in “things happen for a reason” – I kind of have to be when you consider some of the stuff that has happened to us! When we left Zimbabwe I was like “noooooo”, but if we hadn’t done that there is no way Ash and I would have ended up at one of the best universities in the world, with all the opportunities we have now. If I hadn’t had the struggle I had that day I got my results, I would probably have slacked off a bit and not made it onto the MEng, regardless of what I was originally accepted for. If I hadn’t done music A level, I might not have met Tom, who I met through a Devon strings group, and I definitely wouldn’t have met John because I doubt I would have joined Sinfonietta. These are two of the most important people in my life; so maybe that mistake wasn’t so bad after all.
Whatever happens, try make your decisions with a level-head, and don’t just consider the next year, or even the next three or four years. It may seem like a long time, but trust me, it isn’t, and what you do will affect your future in a big way, even if it all seems a bit too hard to face up to in the immediate aftermath of the disappointment of not making your offer.
What if I do get in?
If you’ve been given your place, start getting excited! I know some terms start way early, and my recommendation for the next few weeks is plan on what you are going to take and get it sorted out at least a week before you go (and definitely not the night before!).
Then, make the most of your time left at home. You probably can’t wait to leave – but you will miss it when you get to uni, even if it’s just home cooking and Mummy doing your laundry. Spend time with your friends, go for walks in your favourite park, get someone to teach you how to make spaghetti bolognaise and an omelette. Laze about as much as you humanly can, because when you get to Imperial, you won’t have that luxury.
The waiting to get to uni can be quite terrifying, even though it’s insanely exciting at the same time. If you want to chat to anybody who will also be a new student/is a current student (ie yours truly), Facebook is a good source, or try out myself or any of the other student bloggers.
If you’ve got in, see you in a couple of months…