That was my first thought when confronted with the challenge of the Imperial College Graduate School Masters 3.60 competition. Can anyone actually present their research project to a panel of judges and an audience of peers in only 3 minutes? That was indeed the challenge of the competition and I have to say that initially I doubted if it were possible. However, since I was at that time very much mired in the ‘slough of despond’ with my project, trying to figure out what my research design was really supposed to be, I thought that condensing the whole thing into a three minutes overview might help focus my mind on which elements were really critical.
The second term was tough with five separate two-week modules and two one-week half-modules, all with their own coursework and deadlines, plus we all had to complete a literature review for our research project and submit a 20 page write-up. As well as intimidating, this was very exciting as it marked the transition from the taught components of the course to the research element, which is exactly why I embarked upon the course in the first place: to test out my ideas for research into the energy system transition to see if they have any validity, if I can ‘do research’, if I find it interesting and feel it can be useful.
…are paved with gold? Is that what Dick Whittington heard when he started his journey to London all those years ago? Well maybe there’s no gold paving, but there’s more to being in London than following the highways of learning and earning, and so there is surely plenty of opportunity for detours along the byways of cultural advancement as well. The legendary Whittington rose from a pauper boy to Mayor of London, via cats, rats and wealth, undoubtedly acquiring cultural improvement in the process. And now? What is there for a poor mature student to do in London when not under the academic cosh at Imperial?
What are the options for mature students in their fifties to stay fit? There are plenty of time, resources and facilities dedicated to help with lectures, tutorials, reading, research, coursework and so on. What about other essential components of daily life: exercise, sport, fitness? Rest assured: it turns out there are also plenty of facilities to help you when you want to do anything other than rest.
I headed over to the Ethos Sports Centre, right next door to the main Imperial site in South Kensington, to check it out. From old-fashioned circuits, currently fashionable yoga, Pilates and Zumba, to rather more esoteric sounding Vinyasa flow yoga or Kondi – Ethos appears to have it all.
…makes Jack a dull boy, or so they say.
What about exams though? Where do exams fit into that adage?
My first week this term was taken up with exams – my first for a few decades, so I was feeling a little rusty. However, I’m running far too far ahead of myself: before we get to the exams, who remembers revision?
I embarked upon my revision programme eagerly enough, drawing up a schedule for revising ten topics, spread over ten days or so, with slots for trial questions from past-papers, other periods dedicated to recap and summarising, and even timed mock-exams to complete entire past-papers under pseudo-exam conditions.
What a rollercoaster ride it has been. Never again will I complain at the start of term when things seem to going quite slowly for the first couple of weeks; we finished the term with two major pieces of coursework to be submitted, an intensive week-long module on entrepreneurship (very interesting, by the way – I may come back to that in a future blog…), an exam and a presentation. All in the final seven days. Wow.
There was a palpable sense of relief at the end of term party. This was in two stages: firstly the more formal part, in the student room, where several recent alumni had been invited to join us for a networking event, and where the other main pass-time was changing the selection of the Christmas music playlist and the video of Christmas trees or yuletide logs ablaze on winter fires.