Archive for the ‘Imperial’ Category
Hello freshers. And non-freshers. I am officially back.
Wow, it’s been a while. What have I been doing, you might ask?
Well, my holiday was of variable quality. For the first month, I participated in UROP. That is a pretty cool thing for all new students, as it allows you to do some research during your holiday. Of course, you might do that in your labs or practicals anyway, but a) you will definitely not get paid for this (and it’s possible to get a bursary for UROP), and b) you have no chance of publishing a scientific paper. So I worked on something in the Biomedical Engineering department (a.k.a. The Pink Cube), and it was pretty interesting.
Secondly, I went to a place I wanted to visit for a long time - Hong Kong. It was my first trip to Asia, and hopefully, not the last.
Then I briefly came back to London, with my main intention to move to a new place. I succeeded in doing this. The little downside is that my new, um, apartment is of a size of the bathroom in my house. But hey, at least it’s practically on campus
Lastly, I went back to the home country of Poland. Nothing special there - life as usual. Except I did some hiking in the nice Czech mountains. I returned to London last week - after a bit of an argument with Ryanair and Wrocław Airport staff (come on, my luggage was only 4 kg overweight ;)).
So here I am. Sitting in my second home - the library (I still have no internet at my flat - and none of my neighbours uses unsecured wi-fi), trying to think what to do. My current ‘to-do’ list has 12 items, hopefully, will be done very soon
From now on, expect frequent posts. If you have any ideas what should I write about - please contact me. Also, a reminder - follow me on Twitter - maybe that will make me twit a little bit more.
And remember - if you want some Magic in your life, read my blog
I already apologised for not posting for so long last week. I understand that it has been over a month, but I have an excuse - I had exams. Yes, you’re right – that’s hardly an excuse. I have another one – my laptop has been stolen. I’m not going to talk about the incompetence of the Metropolitan Police (they’ve done NOTHING about the whole situation, even though CCTV cameras are pointing at the place it was stolen from). Instead, I’m gonna concentrate on my life without laptop.
I’m pretty sure that not many students at Imperial would survive without a computer. I don’t need to say how useful it is. It is also perfect thing for revision. You can view the lecture slides (which is important for people who don’t take notes during lectures – I wouldn’t be able to read them anyway), and most importantly, use Wikipedia – student’s best friend. But there is the downside – apart from Powepoint and Wikipedia, there is also Facebook, Youtube, and million other evil websites which would not help in your revision. I, in particular, enjoy procrastinating on Wikipedia – reading really random stuff (and that deserves a post on its own).
Although initially devastated when I lost my laptop three weeks before exams, I started to see the good sides of it. I was in this situation before – during my AS exams, I got banned from the schools IT room for having a virus on my computer, and last year, when revising in SAF, I asked my friend to put a password which wouldn’t let me use the internet for more than an hour a day, except Wikipedia and WebCT. Of course, as a real Imperial student, I found a hole in the security system and managed to get to the internet using my music player software. And there was always Wikipedia.
So, I thought, that without a computer or a TV, what could stop me from revising? There is absolutely nothing to do at my flat. I was wrong. Very wrong. Firstly, I had my PDA, which is okay for viewing PDFs, but the reduced sensitivity of the touchscreen makes internet browsing a real pain. That did not stop me. I still went on Facebook when I wanted – but it took me five minutes, instead of thirty seconds. The old PDA did not support Youtube – but I had my mobile with wi-fi connectivity. Installing some messengers on it also made me master typing on phone keypad. I even played bowling using energy drink cans. I don’t have to say, that the last days before the revision were pretty crazy – but you probably know exactly what I mean.
At that point I realised that no matter whether I have a computer or not, I’ll find a way to procrastinate. I also found out that my addiction to the Internet is not as severe as I initially thought. Which, I guess is a good thing.
Exams are over. That means I can go back to blogging.
Expect more frequent posting from now on.
Having numerous essays, assignments, dissertations lab reports and other paperwork to hand in during my two years at Imperial, I found something very special about me. In order to write a good essay, I need to do it last minute. And by last minute, I really mean last minute. There is something in me that prevents me from doing work, if I know that I have more than enough time to complete it. If there is a week for me to finish my work, I would nearly certainly start doing it on Sunday evening, most possibly ending with an all-nighter. Crazy, you mightthink. Most of the people I know think so - but not me. Starting the work late makes me more focused, and the tension adds motivation.
The best thing about this method is that it actually works. I do get firsts for most of my essays, and the mark I get is nearly inversely proportional to the time spent on the essay. As an example, I finished my bioinformatics projects 3 seconds before the deadline. Result? 85%. People on my course hate me for that, but it’s just how it works for me.
As good as my method is, it is not perfect. As mentioned in my previous post, I recently had to submit my 4000-word tutored dissertation on a very exciting topic of falls in the elderly. Although I had all my information gathered and in theory knew what to write, I really started the day before the deadline. After all, I thought that if I write 5 words a minute, I can finish the whole thing in 13 hours. As a scientist, I should have known that theories usually don’t work.
My deadline was 2 pm. I had to submit both paper and electronic copies, which meant that I had to leave at 1 pm to get to South Ken and print the dissertation. I was nearly finished at 12 pm, had to add some references and a chart, and to proof-read my beautiful essay. And then my computer crashed. No biggie, anyone would think, but my computer, a real geek-machine usually takes 15 minutes to start-up. What’s worse, I discovered that Word somehow failed to create an autorecovery version of my file, leaving me with 500 words to write. After some time, I found the actual version, but had very little time to finish it. Fortunately, my friend was at Imperial, and he was happy to print and submit it for me. Happy, I continued in writing about personal airbags and then my internet connection stopped working. It wasn’t my computer’s fault, it was definitely something wrong with my ISP which I won’t name. Although I could continue without internet, my main source of information was available only online, and as I mentioned I had to submit my work electronically using WebCT. Desperate, I unplugged my laptop, rushed to the window where I knew I would found an unsecure wireless network – but not this time. And so I ran to the tube. Of course, there were delays. By the time I was there, I had no time to finish, and had two options left – submit the incomplete version, or refine it over night and get a 5% penalty. I chose the latter, and submitted it the next day.
That should really teach me a lesson. And I think it succeeded- now I know that one day is not enough to write the whole dissertation. Two days, on the other hand…
Incidentally, I am writing this post because I got bored of writing my lab report which I have to submit by Monday. I wrote 0 words so far. I’m sure I can finish it tomorrow. Or more realistically, on Sunday.
…excercise your body instead.
You know what’s one of the greatest things about Imperial? Its Ethos. No, I don’t mean the spirit (although that’s not too bad either). I mean Ethos, the sports centre. Most of the current students students will probably know most of this stuff already, but let’s write something useful for prospective students this time.
What can be more relaxing than spending your lunch break in a gym, doing some weight training, and then relaxing in a spa pool or a sauna? That is how many of my days look like. Ethos is one of the things that everyone loves, and the fact that it’s free (at least the gym and swimming pool) is just extraordinary. I believe that Imperial is the only uni in the country that provides its students with a free sports centre and, since it was built only a few years ago, it’s also apparently one of the best equipped ones. In his recent interview in Felix, the Rector announced that it will remain free next year.
Considering its price (or the lack of it, for that matter), you could think that Ethos is packed for most of the time. Wrong! I’ve been to both the gym and the swimming pool, and there was never a time at which I found no available swimming lanes, space in the spa pool or free weights. Sure, some times like Wednesday afternoon are more busy than others, but it is not bad at all. I guess Imperial students have other exciting things to do - most likely playing World of Warcraft or other MMORPGs.
I know the whole post sounds like an advertisement, but it actually is. If you are a prospective student and you are in doubt about choosing your future university, then you have an answer – go to Imperial for the free gym, and make sure you make good use of it.
(The photos attached are not mine, they’re taken from the Imperial Image Library. Ethos doesn’t allow cameras inside :D)
‘Hey, what’s your name?’
‘Wait, I think I know what you mean…’
‘You’re right. Now, you’ll die!’
No, this is not a quote from a B-class gangster film. It is a conversation I’ve heard last week at Imperial. And again, I don’t imply presence of any hitmen at our university. It’s just how one of the best societies at Imperial works. The Assassins Guild.
The game started last Monday. Having prepared my weapons some time before (and I wanted to have a weapon for every occasion), I was able to proceed to plan my assassinations. I received two targets, together with their names and photos. A bit of subtle Facestalking gave me some background information, including the place of residence of one of them (“Tizard 2nd floor” and similar groups are perfect for this), I had a plan in my mind. I wanted to lure them to a secluded place, by offering them some freebies. And then perform a spectacular double kill, catching everything on camera. It sounded perfect.
While I was waiting for the right time, I witnessed another assassination. My friend saw his target in JCR, identified her by her necklace, and killed her without much resistance. I recorded the event, but I laughed so hard that the only thing I managed to film was the sky.Then, I accompanied my other friend in his attempt. He knew where his target is going to be. And he waited for him to leave the lecture hall. What my friend did not predict, was that his assassin also came out of the same lecture hall. The conversation I mentioned before occurred, then my friend started to run, losing his shoe during the process. The fight was equal, but the opponent was quicker. I intended to record this one as well, but this time I was rolling on the flooring laughing by the time I grabbed my camera.And then it was my big day. Everything was planned. I went to the toilet in order to be perfectly ready for the assassination. While I was going to wash my hands, I felt something poking me. Immediately after, I heard the words ‘You’re dead’. My assassin followed me. To the toilet. And waited for me. What a humiliating death… But well done, assassin (if you’re still alive).
Now, I’m dead. But I shall return in my second life as an inquisitor. My role will be to kill misbehaving assassins. So, if you’ve broke the rules, be ready – new sheriff’s in town.
The game is really fun, and it’s biggest plus is that it’s free. You can just join it as any other society. A definite must-do at Imperial.
If you still don’t believe me about the level of geekiness, then have a look at that:
This was taken last week during my practical. I had to go to do some flow cytometry in Flowers Building. You might be wondering what’s wrong with the picture? Well, look at the warning at the bottom. What language is it? It’s not Mandarin, not Japanese, not Georgian. It is Klingon - an artificial language from Star Trek. The only people who use it, are people who watch Star Trek obsessively - namely, the geeks. I personally never watched it, and recognized it as Klingon only because I read about it on Wikipedia when I was bored some time ago.
After my discovery, I spent half an hour trying to translate the warning into English, even though it was quite obvious what it meant. Someone here has too much time…
One of the first things you might have heard about Imperial is how geeky it is. It is a stereotype. But it is a true stereotype.
Since I am on my second year, I though I know my friends quite well. But recently, I learned some random things about them. For example, they all played excessive amounts of Pokemon. One of them still does, and has all the episodes of Pokemon TV series. Another friend of mine watched 150 episodes of some anime series in 4 days. I don’t even mention how much computer games all of them play, and how much they talk about that. I’m also pretty sure that most of the guys at Imperial would say that they are not very good with the opposite sex, and it usually has nothing to do with imperial girl to boy ratio. A perfect example of geeks, right? Try calling them geeks then - the answers will always be the same, and you probably have a good idea what I’m talking about.
Now, I am a proud member of IC Wine and Fine Drinks society. I remember that during the first meeting, at the beginning of the tasting somebody complained on how many geeks are at Imperial and how bad that is, of course claiming not to be geeky at all. After a couple glasses wine, the true colours came out. Firstly, people started talking about science, which is perhaps not that surprising. The debate, however, took at least 20 minutes, and some people even took some paper out of nowhere and started to draw explenations of their theories. On the next meeting, which happened quite recently, a very similar thing happened. Talking to people around me, I mentioned that I am currently reading Solaris. Unknowingly to me, my speaker appeared to be a part of the Sci-fi Society committee, and did not hesitate to give me all kind of recommended books and films. What’s even more interesting, 5 other people turned out to be the members of the said society. After all, Imperials sci-fi library is allegedly, the biggest (!) library in Europe dedicated solely to science fiction. Then, I heard them singing the song that appears on end credits Portal - a very geeky computer game. I actually had a song on my mp3 player, so everyone enjoyed the situation even more. Scary stuff, isn’t it?
What I don’t understand, is what’s so wrong with being a geek? I consider myself very geeky, according to the official Geek Test which I took today, I am a ‘Super Geek’, and I fairly certain that many people at Imperial would score much higher than me. I even see plenty of similarities between me and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. After all, what’s wrong with being interested in science? What’s wrong with video games? What’s wrong with coming books? What’s wrong with Star Wars? I could give infinite examples, but they are all similar. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN be a geek and be very sociable, go to normal parties and even drink alcohol. You don’t have to be overweight and stay in your room for 24 hours. Here, just look at the list of sexiest geeks of 2008, you won’t be dissapointed.
What I want to say, is that the geeks are everywhere, especially at Imperial. Your friends, your lecturers, even yourself. They might not look geeky, they may appear to be as normal as possible and you might think you know them very well. Well, you’re probably wrong. But have no worries. Being a geek is a lot of fun.
Quite recently, I had to print off some lecture slides. I was slightly shocked when I discovered that I have over 30 pounds of printing credit available – and I’ve never ever topped it up. Of course, my department is gracious enough to provide us with printing credit, so we could print our lecture notes. I don’t print all of them - last year I noticed that the only thing I used during my revision were the powerpoint files, and a big file filled with paper notes was just standing on a shelf during the exam revision time. And I was not the only one with this problem. The record belongs to my friend, who has over £35 £45 at the moment. Surprisingly enough, many people still complain that we don’t get enough of printing credit…
I tried spending some of the money by printing textbooks available in the internet (the library copy I got was requested by somebody else an hour after I collected it from the library – yes, it was a popular book). Still, no success – I had over 20 quid to spend on printing that will never happen.
One time, when I was standing in the queue to get some lunch in SAF cafe, a great idea came to my mind – why can’t this money be used for other stuff? For example, paying for food. Everything required for this system to work is already in use. Credit can be added online, and the CID cards already have the contactless chips, so when paying for your sandwich you could just touch in. Or, if that’s too expensive, all the outlets around campus read the college cards by swiping it anyway.
I can imagine that that would reduce the queuing time significantly. Queues in JCR during lunchtimes are terribly long (I swear they were much shorter last year). I suppose that the departments wouldn’t be pleased to know that their money is spent on buying baguettes and bananas instead of printing educational materials. But then, the two accounts can be separate. I’m quite sure a college card can handle an additional number. Any experts on RFIDs?
So, if any of the Imperial or the Union’s VIPs are reading this – can that be done? I am pretty sure that everyone would be happy, so I am looking forward to see this in use in near future. Hopefully before I finish my degree…