The trials and tribulations of a girl trying to make her way in the wide world of science

Archive for June, 2011

The rules of academic life: Number 52

Do NOT, under any circumstances, drink too much around the people who will be deciding your degree classification/ marking your work/ having any say in your future happiness. This should be obvious. Apparently it is not.


On the phenomenon of feeling constantly stupid

As I approach my final year the talk in the air around campus is all centered on one thing: Upping The Game.

Until this point a smattering of intelligence has been enough to get us lowly undergrads through the course, however, this is all about to change.

Smarts just isn’t going to be enough anymore. Intuition, self ambition and drive, skill and the like will need to come into play much more. Many of you will be thinking that these surely are all part of what makes intelligence, that how could we have got this far without using them before now. I can tell you something for nothing, the ability to remember lots of facts in the right order is a world away from becoming ‘proper science like’.

The perfect example of this has been my adventures of the last few weeks. I have begun the lab work for my dissertation, and it is a whole new ball game.

I always thought I was reasonably intelligent, even for an undergrad-the lowest of the low in the academic hierarchy- but most days I have been feeling as thick as shit to put it frankly. In hindsight, this is to be expected. I am working with a man 3 years into his PhD whose little finger probably hold more knowledge than my entire self, and rightfully so. I seem to be lacking so much of the basic laboratory knowledge. Its no ones fault in particular. It is a learn on the job exercise.

But apparently, as far as feeling not at all that bright goes, I am not alone. After having a conversation with one of my lecturers the other day he confessed that at times he still feels the same way, in science there is always someone how knows more than you until you become something akin to President of the Royal Society.

I’m not sure if this information makes me feel better or worse at the moment. It is hard to know how to feel, being surrounded by people that you feel in constant¬†competition with- if I get less than her in the exam etc etc- it is hard to realise that you should only be in competition with yourself, improving your knowledge, moving forward and all that jazz.

Perhaps we should be content with that, competition with ourselves instead of others. But then again, thats half the fun of it sometimes.

An interesting find

While doing some very important research online (very important, top secret stuff if you really want know), I came across a hero of science cartoons for dummies. Enjoy.

The long absence

So, anyone with half an idea of the academic year will know why I have been absent these past months.

That dreaded time has been on us again, where students either get fatter or thinner, start to smell and go pasty white: The Exam Period.

There are many awful components to The Exam Period, lack of social life, lack of sleep, lack of fresh air (the Sun always seems to shine during this period also, just to spite us) and a general lack of everything apart from stress.

However, I realised this year something new, it wasn’t just me and my classmates going through these motions, my family did too. The house become a Sufferers Paradise and they couldn’t escape it. Their Mother and Partners’ head was replaced with a textbook which only emitted short grunts and when conversation was squeezed out of her, it was about her impending doom (forgive the third person, it just seemed appropriate).

So this led me to THE question: how do you get the right work/life balance? Answers on a postcard please, but I’m guessing you all have as much a clue as me.

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