Sterile overalls, interventions and midnight library dances squared

Oxford Street has already lighted up with Christmas decorations and everything seems to suggest, even though I can’t very well believe it, that more than a half of my first term at UCL is, again, behind me. Using my favourite comparison accurately representing division of academic year at UCL to three terms, we can find ourselves in the eighth week of pregnancy where the embryo is starting to look like a person (unlike to a student who is slowly but surely losing this ability).

Considering just the last week, I had three exams, deadline for an essay about Intelligent Windows, an annual Natural Sciences Boat Party, and a trip to Czechia to give a talk about studying at UCL and studying abroad in general at my former high school. Honestly, trying to recap all the events of these last hectic days and even weeks seems almost like a superhuman task. Therefore, I would like to make a note about the days which were not predominantly only in the spirit of calculations, programming and writing papers – summer holidays, i.e. two months spent in Prague as a Process Development Intern in the biotechnological company SOTIO.

Besides discovering mysteries of ‘The City of Hundred Spires’ and enjoying everything typical for life in our country, I have tried how it feels to have regular working hours every day but also (after a long time) an actual free weekend. In addition, I was given the opportunity of educationally and intellectually stimulating discourse in the field of molecular and cell biology. The main purpose of my work was to cultivate a small ‘garden’ of the LNCaP and SK-OV-3 cell lines with the subsequent statistical qualitative and quantitative analysis of their growth. Leaving out the unique chance to work with top-quality laboratory equipment in clean premises where one returns to childhood while recalling how it feels like to wear an overall, the thing I appreciate the most is the possibility to collaborate with those great people I had an honour to meet there. Thank you all.

When I was then moving back to London at the beginning of September, I felt like an accomplished and experienced senior. This idea broke down as soon as I, exhausted thoroughly, got to my new ‘home’ with turned off water, heating and without any toilet paper. Win-win! To put it right – this year, I don’t live in the hall anymore but in the flat. As every good joke starts: ‘Czech, Polish, French and English person meet up…’ And that is exactly how we live here. Honestly, just month ago I would not have been able to even replace a bulb without an email intervention from across the Channel…

After a preparatory mental cleansing, i.e. trip to Stockholm (though not on purpose, but by implication to do some winter shopping) just before the beginning of constantly repeating carousel of lectures and tutorials, I was more than excited to start my university regime again. Considering twenty-five contact hours a week, especially Tuesdays’ seven in a row, one just constantly strives to balance the necessary caffeine saturations to maintain concentration, with need to walk his/hers vesical urinaria. Taking into account regular midnight library dances while trying to figure out given problems, and moreover the feeling of satisfaction when I finally solve and understand them, there is no other reason to explain why I enjoy my time here so much. Every day is different and exciting (even though the only reason for excitement might be a missed bus) challenge!

At the same time, I am gradually further specializing in Particle and Nuclear Physics with Inorganic and Materials Chemistry. However, according to my timetable this term, I feel more like a single-subject student as I spend most of my time doing Mathematics and Physics. Intense Chemistry, and especially a quite demanding laboratory course are waiting for me next term. It might be too soon, but my classmates have already started to bet how many fire alarms do I trigger this year.

Last but not least, I continue to do my job as the Student Representative of my department (Natural Sciences), and I am also a guest member representative of Chemistry and Physics. Simultaneously, I am acting as a Transition Mentor for this years’ first-years to support their academic and personal development. Finally, I also do voluntary additional programming with Code First: Girls!

As they say, you simply do not study UCL, you live it!

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