The Isle of Skye will ruin scenery for you forever.
You have been warned. There is no place more dangerous for your sense of beauty, especially if you go when the sun is out. After that, no other scenery will seem to measure up. Future holidays will be spent passive-aggressively trying to get fellow travellers to look at pictures of Skye on your phone.
I mean, just look at these photos from Talisker Beach.
Blue skies, crystal clear water, black sand and green pasture behind us. Just shocking.
And the scandalous seafood lunch with Talisker Bay oysters going at ~£1 a piece.
Studying at Imperial College can seem like the perfect recipe for falling ill. One part stress, two parts exhaustion and liberal dashes of damp, pollen and air pollution mean that lots of students – myself included – have to deal with being sick in London at some point.
Thankfully, the NHS is around to offer quality care, but navigating it can be tricky, as I’ve since learned. For example, many people think that the NHS is free but that’s not exactly true. It’s free at the point of care. This means that only the services you access at NHS clinics or hospitals are free.
I have an unusual routine every Thursday night. I pull on a pair of swimming trunks, a dive mask and snorkel, and a pair of fins before diving into the deep pool at Putney Leisure Centre. I am an underwater rugby player.
Underwater rugby is played in a 3D-environment where attacks can come from anywhere: above, below and all around you.
Underwater rugby (UWR) started life in Germany in the 1960s as a way for divers to stay fit during the winter. It quickly took on a life of its own and today, it is played in much of Europe, as well as the US, Australia, Colombia and Singapore.
It’s no secret that London can be expensive to live in but thankfully, having a good meal doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. Here’s a quick guide to getting tasty treats at wallet-friendly prices.
1. Supermarket meal deals
Every supermarket and also Boots chemists do meal deals that bundle a sandwich, a snack (e.g. chocolate bars, crisps, side dishes), and a drink for anywhere between £3 – 5. Tesco’s is the cheapest but I generally prefer the stuff at Boots and Co-Op.
2. Ready-to-eat/cook meals
London favours the supermarket savvy. Most places have loads of delicious ready-to-eat/cook meals at bargain prices.
Just a few thoughts as I close the lid on two momentous terms at Imperial.
1. You don’t know what you can achieve until you try
I took a big risk doing this course considering the huge cost and my non-science background. Plus it’s been almost a decade since my undergrad days. Yet somehow I have thrived. Amid the flood of new concepts, information and working styles, I find myself with a fighting chance of a distinction (although maybe I’ve just jinxed it). Of course, I still have the massive challenge of my dissertation but this is already beyond what I imagined this time last year.
If you’re thinking of going to Amsterdam, go to Haarlem instead. No, seriously.
Haarlem is a smaller city just 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. It’s got far fewer tourists, cheaper and nicer accommodation, and way better food. PLUS, it’s a mere 20 minute bus ride to the beach!
With the final assignment of term 2 done and dusted, we decided to take advantage of Eurostar’s new direct train from London to Amsterdam (£35 one way). Well, almost direct. It does do a short stop in Brussels and the total journey is about 3.5 hours. Nevertheless, it’s still way more convenient than a flight.
One of the things I love best about London is the flat that I share with my wife in Maida Vale. It’s small but it’s got enough room for the both of us with its loft design. It’s in a lovely area with amenities all around. And it’s a 7-minute bicycle ride to school. Can you blame me for liking it so much?
Finding the perfect place to rent, however, wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. I saw 18 different flats, trekked all over London, lost sleep and definitely grew a few white hairs over the two weeks I was house hunting. I learned a few things in the process and hopefully sharing them here will make the private renting process easier for you.
One of the best things about being at St Mary’s campus is that it’s a unique crossroads of both the healthcare community and the people who live and work in the Paddington area. All at once, the campus is a graduate school, historical landmark, fully functioning hospital and community resource.
That’s why it’s really cool when the different communities here unite for a common cause.
From March till May, St Mary’s folks are taking the plunge and swimming 22 miles in support of Diabetes UK. That’s the width of the English Channel and helping us get there are an awesome band of postgrad students, medics, diabetes researchers and the ICSM water polo team!
I don’t come from a background in science – my Bachelor’s is in History and I’ve spent the past five years working in marketing – so I often get asked how I’m coping with doing a science degree like Public Health.
And the answer is: not too badly, so far. At least judging from my results for term 1, especially statistics and epidemiology.
Part of this is definitely down to pure elbow grease: extra hours rewatching lectures, consulting YouTube tutorials and making sure I got all the homework done. But thankfully, it’s also because postgrad education is more about the application of technical knowledge to the real world than whether you can memorise formulas.
Going for a swim at the St Mary’s pool after a long day of classes has become something of a ritual for me now that I’m almost two thirds through my course. There’s nothing more therapeutic, and it’s also a bit surreal remembering that Alexander Fleming used to do laps here, as have generations of students since it first opened 80 years ago.
That’s why I don’t want to see it closing down this July. To save it, I’ll be swimming 22 miles – the width of the English Channel – at St Mary’s over the next 12 weeks as part of the Diabetes UK Swim22 Challenge.