Strange. I’m sitting here, one week after handing in my dissertation, using the free wifi at the amazing Barbican centre (if you want a good place away from college to study, it’s right up there, though awkward to get to).
Work-wise, I’ve managed to pick up a position with Lottolab at the Science Museum, which is right next to Imperial! I’m in the slightly annoying situation of not having a room to stay in at the moment, so I’m on the flatshare websites each day, it’s a tedious process but I’m sure lots of people know how it feels.
So putting the boring bits aside, here’s a short wrap up of my year at Imperial, and some tips for new students:
- PhotoSoc is cool. If you like photography, visiting interesting galleries and – importantly – if you have a film camera, it’s great, because of the darkroom access. I went along with a reasonable number of their trips and it was fun to visit places that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen, and meet new friends.
- IC Volleyball is a good gang and a strong club. Training is quite hard so it’s not a club to join if you just want a casual knock around, but the game is challenging and it was way better than going to the gym for a workout.
- Use the gym. It’s so so cheap! I only started going in the last 3 months and can’t believe I didn’t go earlier. Getting some good exercise is great for your mental state too, especially in the leadup to exams and the like. You might not think you can spare the time, but 2 hours of physical activity can make the next 2 days of mental activity so much better.
- If you like writing or playing music or making media, try Felix, ICRadio or the like. ICradio is a bit of a shambles, or it was this year, but Felix is a lot of fun and a good community.
- You get free IMAX at the Science Museum with your student card. Break between classes? Hit it up!
The biggest plus side is that, if you join some of the hundreds of clubs, you actually start to recognise people around the campus, and the whole place feels a lot more friendly than it otherwise would. It can get a bit hectic at times though if you take on too much stuff!
For those of you on the Science Communication course (not many I know), be aware that the course ramps up in difficulty through the year. Term 2 is probably the most technically demanding, with both practical and academic skills being assessed heavily. I chose to do all of the electives, which seemed like a good idea at the time (and I don’t regret) but it was very taxing towards the end of the term.
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to grasp a new concept if it’s a fundamentally different way of thinking about something for you. Through my science degree, it was all building on an existing framework; the Sci Comm course breaks down some of that framework and builds new ones. It takes thought, effort, discussion (over coffee and pints) and weeks or months to figure out how the ideas ‘fit’ with you, even if they seem simple superficially.
Take pictures, but not just when you’re drunk. My facebook profile is a litany of parties, but I took the time to document some of the other times of my year and it’s really worth it.
And if you are struggling or stressed, don’t go it alone. I had some pretty rough times through the year, when things seemed to crowd right in and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to cope, but my friends, family and to a smaller extent my tutors were there to help. The photo above was taken when one of my friends saw I was in the dumps and dragged me across London to go for a walk and clear my head – when I ‘should’ have been studying, but it was what I needed.
This post is a bit of a mish-mash, but that’s kind of how my brain is: adjusting away from 12 months immersed in socialising and study, and now back out into the slightly harsher glare of the real world. Enjoy your year, and if you want to get in touch with me or follow along with what I get up to next, check out my personal blog!