What it is like to be a first year Computing student at Imperial

Dhruv-JimuliaHi! I’m Dhruv, and I’m a first-year Computing undergraduate here at Imperial. I was born and raised in India and recently moved to London for my higher education. I love meeting new people and I enjoy playing the keyboard in my free time.

As someone who is currently revising for (read: rewatching entire lectures and stressing about) my end-of-year May examinations, I thought this would be a great time to share my experience of studying first-year Computing at Imperial. Jokes apart, I think my experiences at the Department of Computing will really help incoming students and prospective students (and others of you reading this) understand what an Imperial Computing degree is like.

As an Imperial Computing student, I was exposed to many experiences that were memorable, exciting, and satisfying. While studying, I always felt that I was doing something productive with my time because I was studying practically focused modules that I knew were essential to my software engineering career, regardless of whether I work in industry or academia. And apart from advancing my career, I just feel there is immense satisfaction in understanding the machines that are so essential and widespread in modern-day society. DocSoc bar nights and events were other amazing opportunities for me to meet new people, and (more importantly) enjoy free pizza.

On the other hand, there were clearly parts of the course that are stressful and overwhelming. I distinctly remember how the overlapping deadlines for the Databases coursework and the Computing Practical test made me constantly worry that I will mix up Haskell functions with SQL queries if I don’t prepare for both assessments well in advance. Furthermore, since our department knows how to work with computers (surprise, surprise!), our department has specialised systems for everything. Off the top of my head, we regularly work with GitLab, CaTe, Scientia, Panapto, LabTS, and EdStem, and I’m not even including run-of-the-mill education software like MS Teams and Zoom. Adjusting to these many systems can be overwhelming, especially towards the start of the first year. Also, being a first-year international student brought its own unique set of challenges involving bank accounts, GP registration, and Oyster cards, but I won’t rant about those here because I think they deserve another blog post.

Overall, I must say that studying Computing at Imperial was a wonderful experience. Even though some aspects of the degree are challenging, I am still grateful for those experiences because they taught me time management and organization, skills that I will keep with myself throughout my life.