During the third year of Mech Eng, we get the chance to work on a Design, Make and Test project. This is worth a large portion of the year grade. Some people say the logbook itself is worth as much as the whole of first year – something I have to confirm because otherwise I sure am in trouble with my logbook written in the code known as ‘Lakshana’s writing’. Well anyway, our team decided to work on Racing Green. For me this was quite a challenge seeing as I am one of those rare Mech-engers who don’t know a great deal about cars. But for the past six weeks I’ve been researching loads and learning from academics and other students alike, so I think I am no longer as ignorant as before. I am however totally fired up about the Formula Student competition we will be entering in 2011! It feels even better knowing that parts we designed and built are on it. Of course this is very much a double-edged sword; if for example our chains snap then I am sure there will be a large queue of people waiting to strangle me…
Archive for November, 2009
Luck is like a short electric pulse – like a signal with a miniscule duty cycle. It’s on for a while… and then switches off for months. If only I were a character from an RPG, who could eat cookies to increase their luck.
Fortunately yesterday (i.e. Monday the 16th) I was going through one of my lucky intervals. I got news that I might be going on an exchange to the University of California! I’ve always wanted to study in the States seeing as their teaching is vastly different from an UK university. Unfortunately Imperial only sends four students, and my name has only been put forward from the Mech Eng department. Ah well, we’ll see what happens…! According to Mech Eng, I have a 70% chance of getting chosen. I have no idea how this figure was calculated, but it sounds good.
The application process involved writing an essay, followed by an interview with a panel of people. Apparently I had ‘impressed them all’ but unless mumbling in the interviewers’ faces is impressive I don’t see how I could have done. Perhaps telling them that I was a blogger was a positive move! I was not sure if it would be appropriate to mention seeing as I was emphasizing the ‘teaching’ and ‘top-class education’ and ‘diversity of cultures’ and such. But when they asked me ‘What makes you the ideal Imperial representative?’ I felt I had to mention this blog.
There are numerous reasons I want to go to California, none of which I outlined in the interview:
1. I’m going to learn how to surf. Provided I’m near the coast.
2. I want to ride on the Liberty ships (that famously fractured because the engineer had not taken into account Ductile-to-Brittle transition of steel). Apparently if you tell the guys you study Fracture Mechanics at Imperial with Dr Crofton, senior tutor of Mech Eng, they give you a free ride! I don’t do fracture mechanics, but it’s worth a try : )
3. I want to enjoy look at the sun.
4. I want to be closer to my family. Well, closer than I am now – America does span across four time zones. Belgium does not even cover half of one.
6. Making contacts so it’s easier to get a PhD and benefiting from a global education…
With all this excitement I keep forgetting two key things. I might not go. And if by luck I do get chosen, I have to leave Imperial behind. I don’t think I’d recognize myself if the me from two years ago saw the me of today, and this must be because of how the university has influenced me. I’m no longer the inferior push-over I was back in high-school, at least I hope I’m not. I’ve met some of the smartest people in my life; people who will definitely go on to become world famous. I’ve made some good friends whom I’ll miss sorely.
When I think about how much has changed these past few years I can feel my eyes getting itchy…and when I realize that I still have a long way to go to becoming my ideal person the tears flow freely. I can only imagine that an exchange to California, be it to Berkeley, LA or San Diego, will aid and strengthen my personal and academic development.
(…did you actually read through all that? That was cheesier than my motivation essay!!)
A lot has happened since term began, but I feel it is appropriate to start my posts from the beginning – when I moved back into my flat (nicknamed ‘B8′) in October.
As I am in 3rd year now, this is my second year living away from the comfort and homliness of halls. Before my 2nd year began I still hadn’t found a place to stay – the height of student procrastination. Fortunately my parents are very tolerant, kind-hearted people so we drove to London a week before term started and found a nice studio flat in the proximity of Imperial.
For about nine months I had a relatively nice time there; many Imperial students live in the same area, and Earl’s court with all its restaurants is just behind. I had no problem staying there for another year, but my mother was quite contrary to the idea. I suppose she had reason to be.
It all started on Hallowe’en 2008…
I remember it like it was yesterday…
I had just returned from a friend’s hallowe’en gathering. It was dark and chilly outside – typical October 31st. I was getting ready to sleep, thinking to myself that it would be a nice change if I actually got spooked on Hallowe’en night. My morbid wish came true a few minutes later.
Through my heavy blankets I saw something black move very quickly in my bathroom. It was too small to be a cat but to big to be a cockroach. I thought this was part of a strange dream, so I left it until the next morning.
As I was performing my morning ablutions I saw it again – darting across the bathroom. It was a disgusting little mouse. I had never been that terrified before. Mice in my house in India are alright, because you expect it. But in London? I was angry, scared and clueless – and I couldn’t concentrate on producing those engineering drawings that were due the next week.
In a small London flat there is no point in doing the ‘humane’ thing by capturing the little critters and releasing them into the wild (aka the London sewers). They dash about like Flash so you end up looking like an idiot trying to chase them. The landlord sent one of his cronies to set up traps in all the dark little corners. These traps consist of a tiny cardboard box with some poison. If you’re lucky the mouse will die in it.
After a week of chasing a mouse that could seemingly teleport, it was replaced by a pungent smell. The battle was finally over.
My father slowly removed the bodies (my parents had come that weekend to help out). There had been two mice. They were so small…and I felt ashamed at my fear of them (until another pair returned in March). I learnt that mice were an integral part of old London buildings. London is a big, crowded city, so things like this are inevitable.
Then there was the time it rained in my studio.
You know the nice, calm feeling you get when it’s raining lightly outside at dawn and you are snuggled in bed? And then the sound gets louder and louder. And then you open your eyes… and it’s sunny outside but there’s a rainstorm indoors.
It wasn’t that the roof was leaking with a few drips in a couple of places; it was dripping everywhere with a pretty big force. It was the first time I went to the toilet with an umbrella. Good times. Apparently a crucial pipe had burst, but everything was fixed by the evening. The smell and dampness was a little hard to get rid of, but time solves all.
You can see why my mother was not so keen on me moving back to the ‘mouldy old’ place. I took her advice and visited more flats, but I couldn’t help comparing them with my B8. B8 had slowly transformed into a home, and despite the difficulties of adjusting I have grown to love it. I feel very lucky that this very flat was free in October, almost as if it knew I was returning…
(Wow. It took me 668 words to get to my point. I promise the word count will be less next time!)