Apologies for my recent digital silence; there is no valid excuse bar being a little bit lazy. A few things to tell you including the finishing of academic work, visiting St Andrews, and gaining experience with some science communication activities (though I am dedicating a single post to the latter!).
The MSci year has been finished off with tiredness, relief, and excitement. I wrote up and submitted my masters thesis which was an interesting experience; my project had a lot of set-backs so it amounted to more of a report of glitch-fixing than anything else but still a good experience regarding the real world of science! For my project, I also had a viva (also known as a “viva voce” meaning “with living voice”) which is an oral exam of project work. In this exam I was questioned about my project to test my understanding and to allow me to prove that I did in fact do the work. It was a bit scary at first, having never done one before, but during and after it felt good to have had the discussion :). The research-led modules were finished off with a news’n’views article and a poster presentation. The former involves presenting research findings in a way which is more accessible to a wider scientific audience and/or lay-readers. This was a great exercise as, though I’m very enthusiastic about presenting interesting science to wider audiences, I had never written one before! I did well and received great feedback so I think I did well! The poster presentation was a similar task except instead of a written document I had to present the findings of a study as a full academic poster. This was harder than the article as the posters have to be catchy and accessible as well as strike a good balance between covering the necessary content and being too wordy! Overall, I have really enjoyed the MSci program and highly recommend it to anyone doing an undergraduate degree who either wants more experience before pursuing a research career or who is unsure of that as a career and wants a bit of a bigger taste before! I feel a lot more confident now to start my PhD (as well as a heap load of other communication skills) than I ever would have felt this time last year.
I visited St Andrews! It was such a long journey to get there from Birmingham but it was definitely worth it! The town is incredibly small and appears to be dominated by pubs! All of the people I met were incredibly friendly (a little unnervingly at times..) and the town itself is wonderful. My partner and I stayed with a friend who lives there which was nice as we didn’t need to find a hotel and we spent numerous occasions in pubs! I met my supervisor who was wonderful and took me and her group for smoothies! Afterwards I was shown around the buildings and labs. It was really good to see where I’ll be working! On one of the days, my partner and I met one half of her future lab for a drink and after which her co-supervisor treated us to dinner which was awesome! Bar the fun of getting to know future colleagues, there was some seriousness. As I’m unfunded, I am in need of a job to support me during my PhD. I wrote a cover-letter and attached it to my, ever so updated, CV and proceeded to hand out 30 of them to everywhere I could! Hopefully someone will see something hire-able in me 🙂 We also house-hunted. Eventually settling on a flat just out of the town we started the standard procedure with a very friendly letting agent. Only a few hours later a PERFECT looking flat in the town centre appeared. We rushed the next morning to see if we could swap and the wonderful agent and the current tenants graciously obliged to let us view the place and change our application (we bought both parties a nice box of chocolates as a big thank you!). We have since then learned that we have been accepted for the flat which is great as now we have one less thing to worry about! I have also since received my welcome with my student information and have set up my University of St Andrews email account 🙂 I’m really looking forward to it all. Both excited and terrified at starting my PhD!
One last thing. Yesterday I received my degree classification. I have a 2.1! Which I’m very glad about 🙂
Thanks for reading