Blog over and out for 2015-16

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are all good and your exams went as well as you’d hoped, if not better!

This is me signing off the Manchester Life Sciences blog for the academic year 2015-16! Today is my last day as an Intern for the Faculty of Life Sciences, and I can’t quite believe how fast this year has flown by! I’ve really enjoyed reading the blogs from our very talented student writers.  I can only hope that you’ve enjoyed it too!

Big thanks to our student bloggers for letting us follow your stories. Their enthusiasm for the university and the city of Manchester has really shown through their writing, making me all the more miss university life and wish I was a student here again!

In fact, I think my favourite job as part of my internship this year has been running the student blog. I love hearing about the different experiences each student gains from university life here. It’s also interesting to compare the bloggers experiences to my own time as an undergraduate life sciences student at The University of Manchester! It really shows the variety of opportunities there are available to get involved with here, academically and socially, within the university and/or the city in general.

Here’s a little photo recap of the year from each of our bloggers:

And not forgetting the placement students!

You can read back over their blogs from the year using the menu above.

The aim of the Manchester Life Scientists blogs is to give all life sciences applicants a taste of what it’s like to be a student here at The University of Manchester. After all, this could be you in a few months/years time! I hope that we have achieved this, and you can see how fun and rewarding it is to study here!

And to those graduating – congratulations and good luck with whatever the future may hold for you. Remember, if you’re not quite ready to leave The University of Manchester but want some professional experience in a field relevant to your desired career path, you can always, like me, apply to an MGP! There are lots of positions available for a variety of sectors. And trust me, you’ll get so much out of it!

Me intern photo

Me after my first week with my new staff card!

Good luck with your applications!

Alina

Digital Media (Recruitment) Intern

 

 

 

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Harriot’s Placement Year Blog

Hi everyone!

My name is Harriot, and I am a Medical Biochemistry student currently on placement at an agency called H4B Manchester, which is part of Havas Lynx – a leading global healthcare communications company. H4B is a company that aims to improve the quality of life of people with an illness, by combining pharmacology insight with consumer thinking by talking to real patients in order to look at all the things that make us human.

A quote from the yearbok - this just speaks for itself.I love my course, but I have never really been interested in a career in research. However one of my main goals in life has always been to help people and make a positive difference to the lives of others in one way or another. I of course understand the importance of research, and that the breakthroughs made lead to helping people all over the world. However, I’m a sociable person who likes to be involved in discussion and debate. I am also quite a creative person, and I thoroughly enjoyed studying art and design at A-level. I knew that I needed to use my placement opportunity to explore alternative career options available to a life sciences graduate. After browsing the available placement opportunities, the Havas Lynx Enterprise placement appealed to me the most. So I was very excited to be invited to interview!

I was given a tour of the office and I was made to feel comfortable and welcome by everyone that I met. I knew straight away that this was the sort of place I would like to work – so when I received the call to let me know I had been selected, I was over the moon! They told me that I would be included on the 2015 graduate scheme, so I was very pleased to find out that I would be starting on the same day as quite a few others; I wouldn’t be the only new girl, which was quite a relief. I was originally a little nervous, but really excited about the year ahead. The scheme kicked off with a company arranged ‘Freshers’ Week’ – a fun-filled, jam-packed week of skills development and team building exercises.

Working at an agency, life is fast-paced. Throughout this year I have never felt like a placement student – I was treated as a valued member of the team from the start, gradually being assigned more and more responsibility. And I loved it! However before I knew it, it was January and I was no closer to deciding on a project title. As much fun as I was having, the whole outcome of your placement is to produce a project report of the year!

Following some discussion with my placement supervisors, we decided that I would write up a project that we had been collectively working on, The World vs. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – an initiative created to help make the everyday lives of people living with MS that little bit easier. I have been heavily involved in the social media aspect of the initiative, community managing the social accounts, speaking with people living with MS and building a community to help support them. It has been an absolute privilege – it‘s so great to see our work really making a difference to people’s lives.

My other daily tasks typically include a lot of emailing, phone calls, meetings, generally coordinating and collaborating with the team to make sure that work gets done, and done well. My official job title is ‘Account Executive’. It is the accounts team’s responsibility to ensure that the team is aligned and motivated to help create the best outcome for the clients, and therefore for patients. However, throughout my time on placement I have had the opportunity to learn about a variety of job roles through both working with my team and other teams – collaboration is key to the success of any agency.

The final major part of the graduate programme is ‘Worksmarts’ which will be held just before my placement finishes at the end of June. We will stay off-site for three days of intense activity designed to challenge, test, and stretch the skills we have been developing over the past 12 months. We will be working in teams to develop ideas, which we will then be pitching back to some of the company directors – which is both exciting and a little daunting at the same time! As part of the graduate scheme, we are expected to develop a specific set of behaviours that will help our personal and professional development. These behaviours include: curiosity, personal credibility, drive to deliver, collaborative and consultative. We have had to self-evaluate on these behaviours, as well as eight specific deliverables (understanding the agency, quality control, financial and time management, science, strategy, creative, technology and client services) and I personally feel that I have come so far since starting at H4B.

We are definitely rewarded by the company for all the hard work we put in! I would be doing Havas Lynx a disservice if I failed to mention #LYNXLife. This concept was developed some years ago in an attempt to maintain the original culture that was felt in the earlier stages of the agency’s lifetime. From the smaller weekly perks like breakfast Mondays (free breakfast – pastries, fresh fruit, bagels you name it), and office dog days (employees are allowed to bring their dogs to the office, it’s amazing) to the more extravagant soirée’s. Since I started working at Lynx, we have been for a number of team meals and activities such as ‘Break Out’ and ‘Geocache Manchester’ which involved a sort of treasure hunt in which we had to answer questions related to particular location checkpoints around the city centre.

We also celebrated our achievements at the #LXAcademy Awards which was held at the town hall last month – an extravagant black tie event with special guest speakers, great food and dancing. My team swiped an impressive three awards overall (best motion, best pitch and grand prix) which of course we were thrilled about. May 2016 was important for Havas Lynx; it was the company’s 30th birthday. We started the day with a live Q&A session and talks from some inspirational guest speakers. Following this, we had great food, delicious cocktails, and endless fun in the photo booth. We celebrated 30 years of with performances from a live band and DJ. An incredible day spent with some incredible people. To top it all off, we got to witness one of my colleagues Chris crowd surf which was hilarious! My motto ‘work hard play hard’ definitely applies at Havas Lynx. We stay late, and work through lunch breaks some days too. But our work ethic just emphasises the fact that we are passionate about creating the best work possible for our clients, and in the long term bringing about the best outcomes for patients, which is very rewarding for us.

We had a blast celebrating Lynx's 30th birthday!

We had a blast celebrating Lynx’s 30th Birthday!

My experience of working in a professional business environment has taught me so much. Being surrounded by such talented, experienced and inspiring individuals has helped me grow on a professional and a personal level. I feel so lucky to have found a placement that was so perfect for me. I have built working relationships and made friends for life.

If you are a hard-working, motivated, sociable individual that is ready to get stuck in to the working world, but are not sure that a lab based placement, or permanent graduate role is for you, I highly recommend an enterprise placement with a company like Havas Lynx!

Thanks for reading! Good luck with your placement applications.

Harriot Mather.

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Dan’s Final Year Blog

Well everyone, I’m afraid this is it, my final blog post as a student at The University of Manchester.

I know, right, how will you ever be able to cope?

For me, term finished a while ago, on June the 2nd, but as you might expect, only now is my clarity of thought sufficient to really have a proper think about what that means. Everyone else has been seemingly over the bloody moon about finishing Uni, but having had some time to think about it, I’m not sure I’m quite as elated as others. I mean, these have undoubtedly been the best three of my twenty one years, and I’m not sure I really want them to be over… That having been said, I have, potentially, finally reached a point in my life where I will never have to sit another academic exam again, which definitely is something to be celebrated! For those of you who are unaware, the  exam season at the very end of your life sciences degree is a little different to all the other ones at uni, because as well as your lecture unit exams, you are also subjected to two extra types of exam papers that you’ve never sat before.

The first of these is what is known as the “problem paper”, where you are given a section of a recently published research paper and you have to analyse it. The university usually give you one that’s probably been discredited, or has a lot of mistakes in it, so there’s a lot for you to talk about, if you can spot all the errors. Then you’ve got to write an abstract, and do some mathsy bits as well. Different courses have slightly different formats than Neuroscience, but you get the idea.

The other is the “essay paper”. Slightly shorter than  all the other finals you sit, this exam presents you with an indeterminate number of questions, that can literally be to do with anything in your subject area, from anything you’ve studied over the past 3 / 4  years, or even from the wider outside that material you have studied. You then have an hour and a half to write an essay on just one of these topics. Depending on how much of a stress head you are, the fact that you can’t really revise for this exam as extensively as you can for normal ones may be a calming notion, or one that sends you into a dizzy frenzy. I think I coped pretty well to be fair! Problem paper was a bit of a shocker, but I was able to write a pretty reasonable essay on an exciting new therapy for people with spinal cord injuries, that was pioneered in Poland a couple of years ago, which was able to restore a man’s ability to walk after he was paralysed following being stabbed in the back. Quite a nice note to end my uni career on I thought…

Goodbye Uni

Goodbye Uni

The rest of that day after the last exam involved almost everyone on life sciences outside in the sun, in one big celebration. To start with though, I had some time to myself so I could have a moment of peace to call my parents and my grandma, and enjoy being a free man without having to deal with the throngs of other over excitable people. Then, NeuroSoc put on a free lunch for all its departing members, affording everyone the chance to line their stomachs with butties and muffins before heading over to the SU, or to the grass outside the learning commons for some sun and a few drinks. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many prosecco corks pop off in such a small space of time, really made me feel  sorry for all the sociologists who were sitting out there still trying to revise, or all the mathematicians who had to look out of the learning commons windows at us all. Actually, to be fair, I didn’t feel sorry for them at all, but I bet they were green with envy.

After the last exam!

After the last exam!

NeuroSoc Class of 2016

NeuroSoc Class of 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A brief dinner stop provided some rest before  an emotional pre drinks, where we sadly had to wave goodbye to one of the other senior ambassadors, who leaves for a year-long road trip across the USA in a couple of days – an a amazing adventure, but quite difficult to say farewell so early after we finished!

BBQ

BBQ

The day after that proved to be slightly more relaxing, with a full days BBQ in the sun and playing music. Then it was on to Banana Hill x Dimensions festival at Hidden, in North Manchester – a great venue, but quite a trek from Fallowfield.

 

 

 

And so on to the next set of adventures really… Once the rent’s up on the Mauldeth lad pad, my Dad is renting a private plane to fly my mum, bother and I around the Caribbean for a bit, before stopping off at Tampa bay and Universal studios for roller Coastering before the parks fill up once the school holidays hit. After that, grandad’s 80th birthday celebrations in Portugal and finally some interrailing with my best gal, when she’s finally back off her placement year in France.

Even that though, is looking a little too far ahead, with a good three weeks left before I have to move out, Manchester still has lots to offer the departing students… Great chances to dress up, at the Faculty of Life sciences ball and Graduation ball, as well as dress down, at Parklife and Pangaea festivals.  There is also the slightly more intimidating prospect of results day and possible viva exams on the horizon. A viva is an interview-type examination for those who are teetering on the grade boundaries. I think I might be one of those people, so fingers crossed I get a viva for an opportunity to get my grade up to a first!

However, there will soon come a time when a source of income is going to be needed, even if it is just to save up for a round the world ticket… the best option looks like a job back home in north London, working as a Teaching Assistant for kids with learning difficulties in a school in Finchley. If I don’t get that then I still won’t need to worry – I know there’s variety in my options, whether I want a Neuroscience related career or not. That is all providing, of course, that my impending call up to MI6 arrive! Hopefully world’s greatest secret agent is enough to get me into the UoM alumni hall of fame..

That’s probably enough rambling from me. This feels rather strange really, trying to come up with a decent closing statement to sum up leaving university, I doubt many people have to actually put something down in words, as opposed to just having tipsy “I love you”s with everyone! I would definitely say that these have been my best 3 years so far, and Manchester was definitely the right choice of University, not just for the Uni, but for the city too. There’s enough of a student community here that you can live in a nice student bubble, but the city has a great identity outside of its studying population, with so much always going on. As for the Uni, I’m sure I’ve banged on about employability before, so for one last time, it is an underlying theme through almost everything you’ll do here, and I’m definitely coming away feeling well equipped to tackle anything, and looking forward to doing so!

For those of you who have been reading these blogs and considering Manchester as a serious option, then look no further – if I can make it here, then you definitely can!

Thanks or reading the posts, I’ve had a good laugh writing them, and last but not least good luck to you all!

Take care, lots of love,

Dan.

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Lucy’s Third Year Blog

Well hello again, and hello for the final time!

I’m very sad to say that this is my last blog; so much has happened this year and it’s absolutely flown by! Despite all the horror stories that you hear about the stress of third year, it’s actually been my favourite yet, for both my course and for my life in Manchester. I’ve met so many great new people since September, and I’m absolutely gutted that most of them will be graduating and leaving Manchester in a couple of months. Not me though – I’m sticking around for my Masters project!

The last ever night together with the senior ambassador family, featuring our beloved Professor Liz Sheffield

The last ever night together with the senior ambassador family, featuring our beloved Professor Liz Sheffield

I’ve spent a big portion of this year carefully planning my big research project, so it’s crazy to think that I’ll actually be starting it in just a few months. I’ve settled on one of the two projects that I planned (not an easy choice when you really want to do both); I’ll be looking at “the effect of interleukin 27 on the metabolic profile of CD4+ T cells during Plasmodium yoelii infection”. Sound exciting? No? It sounds pretty awful actually doesn’t it? Let me explain.

A T cell-fie with my favourite immune cell

A T cell-fie with my favourite immune cell

In simple terms, I’m going to try to find out how one of the many signalling molecules in your immune system (IL-27) controls your immune response against malaria infection (caused by Plasmodium parasites). We know that this signalling molecule can down regulate the aggressive immune response (involving T cells) that your body mounts against malaria, but we don’t know how it does it. Everyone has heard of how devastating and deadly malaria is, yet the fatal damage caused by malaria is actually due to the way your immune system responds to the parasite. When infected with the malaria parasite, your body must mount an aggressive inflammatory response in order to clear the parasite from your blood. However, if this response is not switched off, it can cause fatal self-harm to your own tissues. If we can try to work out how the body can switch off this response, we might be able to better treat malaria in the future, reducing the associated mortality and morbidity caused by it. Sound better? I hope so! I cannot wait to get going with my project and spend a whole year carrying out in-depth and worthwhile research, focussing on something that I’m fascinated by. If parasites aren’t your thing, don’t worry; the faculty has hundreds of different labs working on pretty much any field of Biology you can think of, and with the MSci programme, you can choose which of these you’d like to work in!

In my last blog I told you about the MSci Experimental Skills Module. This was a really intense month of lab and field work as part of a small group, followed by a lab report, a group scientific poster and a poster presentation. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful. It was a lot of work in a very short space of time and we were working right up until exams, but it gave us a great chance to develop our essential research skills for next year. I’ve received some really positive and encouraging feedback on my work, so at least it was all worth it! I even managed to talk about microscopic nematodes (I swear I can relate ANYTHING to parasitology). Have a look at my previous blog if you’d like to know more about the project.

My last piece of coursework for third year featuring one of my many thousands of microscopic nematodes!

My last piece of coursework for third year featuring one of my many thousands of microscopic nematodes!

Right now though, I’m writing this blog to distract myself from the fact I’m halfway through my 5 essay and problem-based exams! I really like the units that I’ve chosen this year, so I’m at least finding the revision interesting. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that exams are horrible. Although, I can find some solace in the fact that these are my LAST EVER EXAMS! Even though I have one year left at university, my fourth and final year just involves an enormous write up at the end, but no exams. I sat my first two exams this week and I think they went okay. By the time this has been posted, I’ll have finished my exams; now that’s a beautiful thought. If you have any exams at the moment, I wish you the best of luck! Don’t stress too much – it’ll be over before you know it!

I might have had 4 coursework deadlines and 5 exams in the past 6 weeks, but don’t think for one second that that’s stopped me from having fun! Oh no, we can’t have that! This month I jumped out of a plane with my housemate, raising over £1000 for charity – and I didn’t die! Sadly, I didn’t manage to get any action shots with my face flapping around as I plummeted towards the earth. I’d rather you didn’t see that anyway. I’ve also recently been to two music gigs in Manchester, one at the Manchester Academy at the Students’ Union to watch Kygo, and one at the Manchester Arena to see Busted (yes, I’m a loser but my 9 year old self just couldn’t pass on the opportunity); both were amazing! I’ve had a couple of BBQs; one with the senior ambassador and admissions team at Professor Liz Sheffield’s house, and the second in 28 degree heat with my housemates, my best friend, and her puppy (yes, 28 degrees in Manchester).

Not to mention, there’s plenty going on after exams. All of the final/third years sit the same final exam, so we all finish together. It’s a morning exam so we’ve decided to head into town afterwards and have a big brunch with lots of prosecco, then we’re heading to my friend’s to carry on the celebrations, and then back into town again. We’re definitely going to need it! The week after that we have the Life Sciences ball at the Midland Hotel; it’s themed “The Oscar’s”, so I’ve bought a ridiculously extravagant dress for it. Then, the day after that it’s Pangea, a huge festival held at the Students’ Union at the end of each semester, which is attended by thousands. Every Pangaea has a different fancy dress theme; the theme this time in “Carnival”, so I’ll be spending lots of time in the run up covered in glue, sequins and feathers whilst I try to make myself an outfit that the girls of Rio de Janeiro would be proud of. Although, I’ll probably end up looking more like a sparkly peacock that’s been in a fight. The week after that I’ll be jetting off to Barcelona for even more fun with my oldest course friends. Exams don’t seem quite so bad when you’ve got all that to look forward to.

Well, that’s about all I have for you this time. Thank you to my loyal readers for taking the time to hear about my life this year (that’s if I even have any loyal readers?! I don’t know). I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings! Writing this blog has really made me realise more than ever just how amazing both the city of Manchester, and the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences are. I’m so proud to be a student here, and I can’t wait to see what my final year brings.

Ciao for now,

Lucy

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Astynnia’s Second Year (International) Blog

Second year came and flew by real fast, beginning from the Experimental Design Module (EDM), January exams, Research Skills Module (RSM), dissertation and up to today with my revision for summer exams. I remember those stressful days when I was overwhelmed with preparation for my dissertation. The grade was announced 3 weeks ago and I am glad that everything went well, better than what I was expecting! So I’m very pleased with that, as it was a whole 10 credits (1/12th of the year) in itself. This year has been so enjoyable and it’s gone so fast that I almost can’t believe that in less than a month, I will be flying back to Malaysia for the summer. I booked my flight tickets without telling my family because I wanted to give them a surprise, which is something that I am looking forward to. 🙂

My overall experience of 2nd year has been amazing. The most valuable thing I have learnt is how to manage time effectively. With all the deadlines I’ve had to meet this year, it’s made me more organized and efficient at getting things done (well) on time! This is definitely an essential skill for undergraduate, and I believe this will come of great use to me in Final Year – when I hear things get real hectic!

I have also used this year as an opportunity to travel while I have been away from my home country. I have learnt so much about different cultures, and have created some great memories which I can look back over as making travel videos are my favourite post-vacation activity.

This year, I got to know more people and made more friends in Biomedical Sciences, which definitely made my life in Manchester more exciting on the social side of things. Although at the moment it’s all study, study, study, there are a lot of gatherings being arranged for before everyone parts for the summer holidays. Oh and the weather is finally picking up too, so there’s plenty to look forward to!

A catch up with my best buddy on a sunny day in Manchester last week

A catch up with my best buddy on a sunny day in Manchester last week

 

So much excitement during Kygo's concert!

So much excitement during Kygo’s concert!

Catching up from my previous blog post, there has been so much going on! To make the most of my time in Manchester and all the brilliant music venues there are here, last month I went to a concert at Manchester Academy (which is right opposite the Stopford building, where most Life Sciences lectures and practical’s take place – ideal) to see a DJ called Kygo. The music and atmosphere was amazing. The music scene in Manchester is definitely something I will remember!

Also, as a lot of my friends are graduating this year, we had a formal dinner at The Living Room Restaurant in Deansgate. We had a great night there and it was very fancy! It’s always nice to get dressed up for a formal event every once in a while. The restaurant was elegant and modern which made for a lovely atmosphere. Oh and the food was delicious too!

 

At the Graduation Dinner

At the Graduation Dinner

I also attended a sports event that we, as part of the International Society, organized at the Sugden Sports Centre and it was really fun! We had 6 station games and the ideas for the activities were modified from a Korean reality game show called Running Man such as “Flying Coins” and “Ping Pong ball Piggyback”. Then after the hectic and fun-filled day there, we moved on and ended it with a karaoke session! It was such a fun day!

Sport day at Sugden Centre

Sport day at Sugden Centre

As second year comes to an end, it’s time for me to start thinking about what Final Year Project to do next year. There are a number of different options, and I’m not quite sure which one I want to do yet but I will have a good think about it once exams end. To help me make my decision and to learn more about the different options, I attended the business pitches by the final year Life Sciences students earlier this month. It was a presentation for their Enterprise Final Year Project and it gave me an idea about the business style enterprise project option which I find interesting. One of the topics that caught my attention was “Diagnostic test for Schizophrenia” as the team members designed a tool virtually to test for the disease.

But before all of that I have semester 2 exams to get through! I have mixed feelings about my upcoming exams but I’d say I am most confident about my ‘Parasitology’ exam. It’s been my favourite subject for me throughout the whole of 2nd year as I love microbes! Plus there is no essay in the exam, only short answer questions! I also find my other modules ’Immunology’ and ‘Cell Metabolism and Metabolic Control’ interesting – revision isn’t all that bad when you’re genuinely intrigued by the things you are learning! The exam that I am the least confident about at the moment is ‘Clinical Drug Development’. It’s quite different from anything I’ve done before as it’s more pharmacology based rather than focusing on how cells, organs and systems function in the human body. However I am working hard so I’m still hoping for the best!

I know that final year is not going to be easy, but in the midst of busy schedule, I am looking forward to some more memorable experiences and taking advantage of all the fun things there are to do in Manchester. Even after 2 years of living here, there is still so much more to do! Academically, I am looking forward to doing the volunteering work with my friends as part of the Final Year ‘Leadership in Action’ module. It is always a good idea to do some community projects over the year as it will help me to take some time off from the books and get to know more people around the university. I think it will be good for my CV too!

Well that’s it then! Good luck in upcoming exams and I hope that you guys enjoyed reading my 2nd year journey! 🙂

Astynnia.

 

 

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Rachel’s First Year Blog

Hey guys!

I literally can’t believe that the end of first year is in sight! Time is just flying by and I’m greatly stressed because my six exams are just around the corner. It certainly didn’t help that last week’s revision had to be put on hold, as Wednesday was the deadline for our Lab Reports that accompanied this semester’s set of labs. Tuesday night was certainly a late one filled with frantic texting in the group chats!!  My report was on an experiment that involved extracting DNA from our cheek cells, finding out our genotype for the taste receptor TAS2R38, and researching how this affects the flavors we can detect. This means labs are DONE until the exam!! It felt so good to finish the practical side of them. After many celebratory jumps down the corridor, my tutorial group and a few others went to Big Hands (a pub opposite the Stopford Building – the main building for life sciences lectures and practicals) for some drinks in the sun. I say the word ‘sun’ lightly; we were slightly freezing to death on the roof terrace but hey, at least we tried!!

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The weather has actually been AMAZING these last few days. It reached 26 degrees, which for Manchester is incredible! The slightest bit of sun sees the student world descend to every inch of grass they can find on campus. The little ice cream vans that pop up by Stopford really make the walks home in the heat more bearable, as does the fact that Lidl is so close to Whitworth Park for impromptu picnics in the sun! The other day, me and a few life scientists did exactly that for a few hours. We were actually working on an entry for this cool competition the Faculty of Life Sciences was running, where you had to make a film about a famous scientist who went to The University of Manchester. We chose to make an animated film about Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker; a scientist who studied the life cycle of the seaweed Porphyra laciniata.  Her research went on to save Japanese coastal communities from starving, after typhoons destroyed their seaweed plantations, so she really was an inspirational figure!

My procrastination level also hit the roof the other day when me and Jaina went… skiing?! Admittedly this WAS a bad idea to do two days before my Lab Report was due (but hey, I got it in on time!!) and it was such a fun two hours at an indoor ski centre called Chill Factore, next to the Trafford Centre. I’d never skied before and I didn’t fall over once, so I was very proud of that!! In fact, over these past few weeks I feel like I’ve done many activities to improve my balancing ability: My friend Rachel and I went to the Northern Quarter for cocktails, which involved many hours balancing in our heels! – And another week the rock-climbers and I decided to go to a roller disco after a climbing session. After several face-plants and spectacular falls, it made for such a fun evening, and nicely added to the bruises we’d already sustained from climbing. It was actually free; one of the many activities the university had organized as part of an exam period De-stress Day.

Speaking of cool things that I have been able to attend as a result of the university, I went to a seriously mind-blowing lecture organized by the Faculty of Life Sciences Society about CRISPR – a new gene editing technique, led by Professor Matthew Cobb, one of my lecturers from first semester. It’s pretty complex, but stay tuned, because this is going to revolutionize science!! For more information, you can listen to a BBC Radio 4 show he did about it here.

Anyway, aside from several fajita nights, Northern Quarter catch–ups, climbing sessions, and a night out with Rach to Revolution in Deansgate Locks, there have also been meetings with our new Programme Directors. Because… I officially became a Biologist!! It’s made me greatly excited about second year too because I really want to do a field course to somewhere amazing like Costa Rica. You might remember me saying from my last blog post that I had to pick a specialization, given that Life Sciences is only a one year course. It’s sad that we’re all splitting up, but given that I’m living with two of them next year, it’s not too bad! We’re also planning to go on a tutorial Black Milk outing after our final academic tutor session, which will be cute!

I also had my final three lectures today. It was sad, but the day was made special by 25 degree weather, the fact that I officially got my first job at Starbucks (FREE DRINKS YAY), and the spontaneous appearance of a Ferris Wheel outside Uni Place!! Only in Manchester, eh?

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Already I’m looking forward to the after exam celebrations. We’re going to the Life Sciences Ball, which is actually on the night of my last exam; so it will be a much needed celebration!! It’s Oscars themed and will be complete with a three-course meal and photo booth, so should be amazing!!  The next night is the last Pangaea festival of the academic year. It’s carnival themed, and my flat-mates and I are already thinking about costumes – flower-crowns, tie-dye clothing, and lots of glitter are on the cards!

Well, this is my last blog post I’m writing for this year. I’ve enjoyed blogging so much! I love writing and it’s so nice to look back and remember what I did over the year. It’s been a fun, hectic, stressful and simply the most amazing year!! You don’t realise how much you will learn at university until you get here: whether it’s the confidence to try new things and meet new people, surviving away from home, to realizing how the science you learn in your textbooks actually translates into real life… Not to mention how to make the choice between more sleep, and the 9am lectures you paid £9,000 for!! 😉 It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure though, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

And to all those picking Manchester as their first choice (the right choice that is!), see you next year!!

Rachel xxx

 

 

 

 

 

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Hope’s Placement Year Blog

Hi Life Sciences Student Blog Readers!

I’m Hope, a Biochemistry with Italian undergraduate. Everyone always asks the same question when I tell them what I study – Why would anyone ever mix science and languages?! Aren’t you just making life 10 times harder for yourself? I never quite knew how to answer (apart from that I kind of liked biology, chemistry and Italian at school so mixed them together and came out with Biochemistry with Italian!) and I’m not going to lie, I was sceptical myself. Now, after two years of juggling the two, I have finally been able to put them together during my placement year, and I have realised exactly why I chose to study a life science with a modern language, and why it was one of the best choices I ever made.

My lab pass (makes me feel super important)

My lab pass (makes me feel super important)

I’m currently on placement in Florence, Italy and have spent the past 7 months working in a cancer research lab in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Biomedical Sciences at the University of Florence.

At the beginning, probably like many of you, I wasn’t sure how a modern language placement would differ from a normal industrial placement. However, apart from being able to do your placement, and therefore live, in an exotic country for a year, the placement aspect is pretty similar. I’m working as part of a small and diverse research group carrying out a project on oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells and their resistance to aromatase inhibitors (a type of endocrine therapy). The most exciting part of my work here is to be carrying out research that has never been done before, and therefore no one knows exactly what the outcome will be! I was even lucky enough to get acknowledgements in 2 published papers for my contribution within my first 6 months in the lab. This was super rewarding and, believe me, it makes university work way more exciting when you see your own name when reading an article on PubMed!

Day to day work in the lab is pretty laid back. Generally, I can come and go as I please, so long as I get all my work done and make good progress with my placement, which often means getting in super early in the morning because I’ve had nightmares about my cells dying – they really have become like my pets! But it also means taking coffee breaks every 30 minutes and being told to ‘leave early and enjoy the sun’ on a Friday lunch time – so I can’t really complain!

Enjoying my afternoons like a true Italian - gelato, pizza and coffee!

Enjoying my afternoons like a true Italian – gelato, pizza and coffee!

 

Queen of the cells 2016

Queen of the cells 2016

However, it’s not all about eating pizza in the sunshine, of course there is a lot of hard work involved too! I spend about half my time in the lab taking care of my cells, treating them with various drugs, and carrying out hundreds of experiments on them. Although it didn’t seem like it at first, after a few months of working in the lab, the experiments really do become like second nature. The other half of the time is spent, ultimately, scratching our heads. Researching, reading, discussing, researching some more. But this is the most exciting part, no one has done this research before, no one can say for sure what will happen or why. And that’s the reason I have come out of this year fuelled with a passion for research, motivated to work towards a career in cancer research.

 

 

 

Without a doubt my main worry was how in the world I would manage to work in a research lab IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. Especially as in second year I struggled to understand labs in my own language. But, believe me, I was pleasantly surprised. Although I’m the only English person in the lab, I’m actually in some senses at an advantage to everyone else, as English is the language of science. I therefore find myself spending a lot of my free time, whilst waiting for a gel to run or for a centrifugation to finish, translating words, explaining grammar rules, correcting papers ready for submission, or most often, explaining just why we drink so much tea in England. This is something I really enjoy, and not only has it given me the great experience in scientific writing, it also gives me the opportunity to ask a million questions on Italian words, phrases, grammar, etc. And, here we are, 7 months later, and I find myself thinking and even sometimes dreaming in Italian. To say a placement abroad is the best thing you could possibly do for both your lab/scientific and language skills is definitely an understatement.

But amazing language skills and lab experience are not the only benefits of studying a ‘with a Modern Language’ degree. On top of all that you get the absolute pleasure of living in an amazing, beautiful city like Florence for a year. Excuse the over-enthusiasm, but I’m well and truly in love with the place. Of course I’m biased, everyone says that about their placement location, but seriously, look how beautiful it is!

Just a few snaps of my favourite city in the world!

Just a few snaps of my favourite city in the world!

Not only do you get the experience of living in a different country, speaking a different language, and embracing the daily life of a completely new culture, you get the opportunity to meet awesome people not only native of your host country but from all over the world. In the space of the past 7 months I have eaten the best paella I have ever tasted (made by my Spanish roommate), learnt a bunch of super important German words (hay bale = Heuballen, kitchen roll = Küchenrolle…) on a roadtrip across Italy with 3 Germans, watched (and triumphed in) England vs. Italy at the amazing Stadio Olimpico in Rome, and cooked a proper British Sunday Roast for 40 foreigners, to name but a few! Not to mention the amazing trips I’ve had the opportunity to go on. My favourite one was for sure spending an exam/deadline free Easter visiting friends in the amazing city of Munich, most of all for the delicious German beer and sausages.

My first time in Germany with friends from all over the world

My first time in Germany with friends from all over the world

So, overall, it’s been a pretty amazing year. I’ve become fluent in Italian to the point where I dream in it, become skilful enough in the lab to the point that I think of my cells as pets, made friends for life from all over the world who I have already planned visits to see when I return to Manchester, spent every weekend discovering places everyone dreams of travelling to, as well as ones I never knew existed, and above all developed both academically and personally, developing skills and qualities that will help me for the rest of my life. I can’t believe that in a few months’ time it’ll all be over and I’ll be back looking longingly out of a university library window longing for the land of pizza, pasta and red wine…

So if you are considering doing a modern language placement, I have two words for you: do it! (Oh, and you now know the (very long winded) answer to everyone’s ‘why do a science and a language’ question).

Thanks for reading!  And good luck with your university or placement applications, or whatever else it might be.

Hope

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FLS research 2016

The academic year 2015-16 is drawing closer to an end, and it’s been another great year for the Faculty. We thought it would be nice to have a reminder of some of the research that has come out of the Faculty this year so far. After all, what better year is there to do it than 2016? – When Manchester is named European City of Science. From all the positive research outcomes of the Faculty this year, it’s certain that this has helped Manchester live up to this name!

2016 started off with a paper published by FLS scientists which showed that there are genetic variants in offspring that can affect the quality of maternal behaviour. The trials for this study consisted of mice families with genetically variable mothers and genetically uniform offspring, and vice versa.

Dr Reinmar Hager, the senior author on the paper, told us how this research is unique:

“The aim was to identify genes that are expressed in offspring but influence the way mothers behave. Normally you try to identify genes that influence how you, and not others, behave. These genes act as indirect genetic effects. Previous research has shown that offspring can manipulate their parents’ behaviour, however, here we identify for the first particular genes with such effects.”

 

Mice

Photo: Locke et al (2015). ‘Genetic studies of body mass index yield new insights for obesity biology’. Nature, 518 (7538), 197-206.

It was found that variation in offspring genotype on chromosome 7 and chromosome 5 affects maternal behaviour, which in turn influences offspring development and fitness. It was also observed that offspring growth during the second week is affected by a locus on maternal chromosome, where the B6 allele increases the trait value – so individuals with the maternal phenotype B6 are genetically predisposed to give better quality care. Conversely however, genetic variation among mothers was found to influence offspring development independent of offspring genotype.

David Ashbrook from FLS was also involved in the research. He commented on the significance of these findings and their implications for the future:

“We identified genes which can now be studied in more detail, and shown that specific genotypes may be co-adapted to benefit both parties, e.g. genotypes which predispose to mothers who provide more care also predispose to offspring who beg less. We also demonstrate a method to investigate the genetic effects of social environment, which can now be used to examine adult phenotypes and associated reproductive success.”

Research of this kind is always interesting and useful to us as it can be applied to all social species, including humans. Identifying parent-offspring interactions is the first step in being able to understand the pathways involved with these, and how they are modified by our environment (social and physical).

Leading on from the idea of how the environment can influence our lives, a study involving FLS Professor Andrew Loudon was published later on in the month, showing the importance of having a circadian body clock that matches the rotational speed of the Earth. Scientists within our faculty are well recognised and respected as valuable experts in their research areas. For example, it is clear that the research conducted by Professor Andrew Loundon during his time in the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester, has meant that he has become a reputable source to comment on other research in the same field. This is seen in a recent BBC article about making flu vaccinations more effective by administering them in the morning. Here, researchers from The University of Manchester, Prof Loudon one of them, were asked to comment on the idea of using the body clock to make healthcare procedures more successful due to it being done at a most appropriate time for the body’s natural rhythm. So not only do we do great research in the Faculty of Life Sciences, but we are an authority on what makes other research great too!

Similarly, this was also seen in in the discussion of CRISPR, a new gene editing technology that can explore organisms at an unprecedented scale of precision. CRISPR has taken the world of biological sciences by storm, and has enormous application in holding the capability to modify the human germline. Although this discovery was not directly from the Faculty, Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, was asked by the BBC to host a show on radio 4 to educate the public about the technology, and the implications and ethical issues it raises for the future. Again, examples like this just demonstrate how other well respected and popular sources value and trust the expertise of scientists in our Faculty!

Other great research from the faculty in January includes:

From early this year, the ZIKA outbreak spread through the Americas and the Pacific – and with it brought the panic associated with the virus and a need for prevention. Scientists at The University of Manchester responded to this by stating that a vaccine is to be developed here. So not only has this year been a great year in terms of research outcomes, but also research prospects! This is just one example of how scientists in the Faculty of Life Sciences are committed to helping people. This dedication to science is something that we as a faculty are very proud of at the University of Manchester, as it can have a hugely positive impact on people’s lives.zika

Another topic in science that has an impact on the way we live is climate change. A major challenge currently facing the world is how to mitigate this. Scientists have suggested many ways of dealing with climate change, but one that has been widely discussed is increasing the amount of carbon sequestered, or stored, in soil. The reasoning behind this is that soil is one of the world’s largest pools of carbon, so by increasing its size further, we should be able to draw down the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby mitigating climate change.

A study involving Professor Richard Bardgett from the Faculty of Life Sciences consisted of sampling soils across the UK. It was found that over 2 billion tons of carbon is stored deep under the UK’s grasslands, which cover around a third of the UK land surface. This represents a huge amount of carbon that is helping to curb climate change. It was also found that 60% of this carbon is deep in the soil, hidden from past national carbon inventories. Another surprising finding was that carbon stored in grasslands, is sensitive to the way land has been farmed, and that decades of intensive grassland farming, involving high rates of fertilizer use and livestock grazing, have caused valuable soil carbon stocks to decline-  the largest soil carbon stocks beneath grasslands had been farmed at intermediate levels of intensity, receiving less fertilizer and with fewer grazing animals. Carbon stocks were about 10% higher in these grasslands than in the more intensively managed grasslands.

grasslands

Professor Richard Bardgett commented on these findings:

“These findings are important for two reasons. First, they show that much more carbon is stored in grasslands that previously thought, and second, they suggest that the amount of carbon in our grasslands could be increased by managing them in a less intensive way. Not only could this help in meeting our future global carbon targets, but also it could bring benefits for biodiversity conservation”

Other great research from the faculty in February includes:

It seems like 2016 has also brought with it the rise of digital technology in scientific research! During a visit from Life Sciences Minister George Freeman, a new home to the heath eResearch centre was opened at The University of Manchester, making us a hub for some of the world’s best digital and health research in the North of England! This is supported by a current experiment going on in the Faculty. With hay fever season quickly approaching, scientists from The University of Manchester are inviting people to get involved with one of the biggest experiments they have ever conducted to help understand why the frequency of allergies is increasing.

Currently 1 in 4 people have an allergy, a ratio that was not as high in previous years and is still on the rise – however the exact reason for this increase is currently unknown. A team of scientists, including some from The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences, have launched an app called #BritainBreathing.  This aims to achieve a better understanding of seasonal allergies by tracking how symptoms change over time and learn about your allergy triggers. Then, by teaming the data from #BritainBreathing with other sources of publicly available weather and pollution data, it will enable us to understand the patterns and causes of seasonal allergies.

One of the key traits of this experiment is science designed with citizens as partners, meaning that it is a collaboration between the scientists developing the app and allergy sufferers. Dr Sheena Cruickshank, Senior Lecturer in Immunology commented on this aspect of the project:

“We have involved the public from the outset with this project in order to not only consult about it but also to co-design the features of the app to ensure it is useful to the allergy community”

Dr Lamiece Hassan from the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, is also involved with the project. She said:

“I don’t [have an allergy] myself yet, I say that because allergies are on the rise. Based on current projections, in 10 years over half of us will have an allergy. Digital technology is part of our everyday lives now and that brings huge opportunities for gathering data on a mass-scale for researchers like me.“

Other great research from the faculty in March includes:

In more recent FLS news, researchers have used a technique developed by Dr Michael Buckley from the Faculty of Life Sciences, called Zooarchaelogy by Mass Spectometry (ZooMS), to identify human traces from a Neanderthal bone in fragments located in Russia. Dr Buckley developed the method during his PhD, when he realised how difficult it is to identify between fragmentary animal bones. ZooMS works by fingerprinting collagen, an abundant protein in bone that survives for millions of years. This is done by extracting collagen into solution and using an enzyme to cut at particular amino acids, which then produces a set of protein fragments that are specific to particular animals. These are then analysed using a mass spectrometer to measure the sizes of the fragments.

Dr Buckley from the Faculty of Life Sciences told us about how ZooMS can be used:

“My recent developments at Manchester have been to upscale the methodology to make it work with thousands or even tens of thousands of samples, a very useful development whether hunting for human remains like a needle in a haystack, or evaluating palaeobiodiversity through time”

He continued to tell us about his involvement in the study:

 “When I was screening through the batch of hundreds of samples and I spotted the hominin signature I was incredibly excited, as it was the first time that my method had been used to find such ancient human remains, and I am confident that it won’t be the last time.

“This finding continues to add to our knowledge of Neanderthal evolution, and potentially to our own interactions with them. As a method it could really revolutionize our picture of human evolution through the practical aspect of helping find much more material to obtain further genetic information from, such as ancient DNA.”

Well what an impressive year for the Faculty so far – and it’s only May! Aside from this, a number of members in the faculty have been rewarded for their research efforts, which recognises just how important and well-recognised the research conducted here is. Faculty experts continue to inspire us by the quality of research at The University of Manchester, making us proud to be a part of the Faculty of Life Sciences.

For recent updates in life sciences news, please visit:  https://lsmanchesterblog.wordpress.com/ 

 

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Dan’s Final Year Blog

Hello everybody and welcome back. Oh how I have missed you all, I hope everyone had a good Easter and that I find you all well today!

Let’s get right to the point – it is a momentous day on which you join me, for it is the day that I have submitted my Final Year Project report. *Rapturous applause* Please though, hold your congratulations… No but really, that is quite a big thing right there. Me, myself, I, the one who rarely even knows where I am, let alone what day of the week it is, has managed to fire off a 19 page report a whole 2 days before the deadline! Who’d have thought that would happen!? Now I have a whole 2 days to send irritating snapchats to people who haven’t finished yet, reminding them of the misery in which they still reside… Haha!

I think the last time I was on here talking your ears off was the day before my exhibit at the museum, on which my entire project was based… You’ll all be relieved to know that the exhibit went really well, loads of budding young future scientists coming in to learn from me about their vision and their eyes. It’s a lot of work though, hosting a science fair stand, believe me! It might look like we’re just standing about confusing little kids, but that volume of talking and gesticulating is pretty draining, even for yours truly. The public loved the Body Experience event so much in fact, that the organisers told me that people had been asking for it to be held for a second day! Even the little post it notes on my feedback board were good. Kids as young as 5 or 6 saying they “loved it” or that it “opened my eyes” – great vision pun whoever wrote that one! One person even wrote “Dan is fantastic”, and before you say anything, no it wasn’t my mother, who did, of course, insist on showing up to the exhibit. Luckily all my friends were too busy to swing by and see me in my “I am a Drosopholist” T-shirt.

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So anyway yeah, project is done, leaving my only 40 credits worth of exams to go, that’s only one ninth of a three year degree left to do, that’s what I call progress. Obviously that now puts me in the no-man’s-land of wanting exams to be over, but not wanting Uni to be over.. At least the timetabling gods have had the good grace not to put an exam on my birthday this year, as they have done every year of Uni so far.. There’s one on the day after instead… thanks. They have also had the great idea of timetabling the only three compulsory Neuroscience exams for this term all on consecutive days at the start of June, not sure how I feel about that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Blah work work work work work, what else has been going on? Well you’ve all been on Easter holidays haven’t you, I hope they were more productive than mine. I had the best intentions, I really did, but as I’m sure you can guess, not a lot got done. I did have a lovely trip to the south of France though. A friend of mine from the trip I took to China last summer is on her placement year in Montpellier so I had Easter weekend down there, on the beach. It was pretty nice, not going to lie. It’s very picturesque, Montpellier, really pretty. Good food, good wine, good sun so all in all, can’t complain. Other than that, a pretty uneventful Easter, with the exception of a night out in Camden dressed as the cast of Archer… I was Archer, obviously.

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We final years, or Golden Oldies are we are also affectionately known, haven’t had lectures in life sciences since the Easter hols, so not much else to report academically I’m afraid. All our lectures for modules in second semester take place in the first half of the semester, so that we have the whole of the second half to devote our time to our Final Year Projects. I have had to do presentations about our projects for tutorial, but they’re never really an issue – I love getting up to talk and our tutor, is always a great audience.

What else is coming up? Well final year project hand in deadline will come and go, and then it will be senior ambassador’s end of year BBQ at Professor Sheffield’s house! Weather permitting obviously, but whatever happens, we all know that it will be a good night – if there’s anyone in the faculty who knows how to have a good time, it’s the staff!

The other big thing to look forward to of course is graduation in the summer. Still trying to decide on what type of dance to do while I’m up there to be honest… open to suggestions from the audience at this point. However before having to head out into the real world to be a real adult, I’ve got lots to look forward to in Manchester before I leave – including festivals Pangaea and Parklife!  Then I think the most grown up option at the moment is looking like a graduate scheme at the Wellcome trust, which seems pretty tasty, good benefits and only half an hour from home (it’s in London Euston).

All that though, is still a world away so wish me luck getting there, and I’ll speak to you all again soon!

Lots of love,

Dan xX

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Lucy’s Third Year Blog

Well hello again,

You find me at one of the busiest and most hectic times of any undergraduate degree: the final stretch of third year. Most third years are currently finishing off their final year project before exams start. As an MSci student though, as ever, things are quite a bit different. The usual 40 credits you get for your literature review and final year project are replaced by three different modules on the MSci course, all of which equip you for your final year as a research student, and beyond.

The first was a 10 credit bioinformatics module which we completed in first semester, which turned out to be much less daunting than I’d expected – I actually did really well in it. The second is a 10 credit project proposal module which is stretched out across the whole year. For this, you have to complete quite a bit of work during the first week back after summer, then compose two different research project proposals (one per semester), one of which will become your final year MSci project. This unit has probably been mt favourite MSci unit, as you have total freedom to work with any of the researchers in the faculty and pursue a project in pretty much anything you can imagine. However, this freedom also comes with a lot of responsibility; you must organise the projects and find two supervisors to work with yourself, and carry out most of the work independently (with a little help from your supervisors, of course).

Finally, we also have a 20 credit experimental skills module. This is a really intense unit, condensed into just 4 weeks. You have to design an individual project, which is part of a wider group research project. My group are carrying out a baseline ecological survey of the green spaces on the university campus, and comparing the biodiversity of that to a local, poorly-maintained park in a residential area behind the university. This project is part of the university’s commitment to social responsibility and working with local communities. The data we produce will be submitted to Manchester City Council and used to inform the planning of the regeneration of the local park, and of the redevelopment and pedestrianisation of Brunswick Street on the university campus, to expand our green spaces. It’s quite exciting knowing that the data we collect will be put to good use. However, there’s a lot of work to be done in a relatively short space of time. This week has been spent doing site visits, and planning the project. We had to write and submit a 2 page experimental design, then we will begin collecting data.

Survey site

Survey site on campus

I have about 9 days to collect around 50 soil samples from the two field sites, and analyse them in the lab. I’ll be looking at the different properties of the soil, such as: pH, moisture content, the presence of calcium carbonate. Then, I’ll be sieving and centrifuging the soil to separate the microscopic nematodes from within it, to measure the nematode abundance. I chose to look at nematodes because – if you’ve read my other blogs – you’ll know I have a thing for parasites, especially wormy ones! Even though these are free-living nematodes, I couldn’t help but make the tenuous link to parasitism. Anyway, once that’s all done I have to statistically analyse my data and write a 5 page lab report. Then, our group will get together to compile all of our data and collectively produce a professional (looking) A1 poster representing our results. This will then be at the centre of a 15 minute group presentation, in which we will all have to answer questions on the project. Sound like a lot? Yep. Oh, and that’s not even considering exams, which start about a week after all this finishes. Ahhh the life of a third year. It’s a good job I love what I do!

So I guess you’d think that – with all that work – I’ve become a solitary creature, found only in the darkest depths of the library. For the most part, you’d be right. However, I like to make sure I reward myself with a bit of fun. This week brought another Tuesday night at Bongo’s bingo at Albert hall (see my last blog if you’re wondering why on earth a 21 year old student would go to bingo), a night at the Albert’s Schloss bar with a live band, and a summertime themed house party for a friends birthday. I also took my sister to the Manchester Opera House to watch Chicago. It was such a good show and I even got the tickets on a cheap student deal. So I’ve had plenty of chance to blow off some steam.

I’ve also been working hard at fundraising for charity for the past few weeks. My housemate and I both have both volunteered abroad with two sister international development charities; which aim to improve access to clean drinking water, promote gender equality and increase environmental sustainability. We both had such incredible experiences, so we decided to fundraise to help fund future projects. I don’t know how I ended up agreeing to this, but we are doing a sponsored sky dive this week; I am beyond petrified. Amazingly, we’ve already raised nearly £700, so at least my untimely death will be for a worthwhile cause. Anyway, I can’t think about jumping out of a plane right now, so I’m changing the subject to something less traumatic.

Fundraiser by day, hula girl by night.

Fundraiser by day, hula girl by night.

In fact, I’m going to talk about something quite the opposite of traumatic…PUPPIES! Well, singular – just the one puppy. My best friend from back home graduated from university last summer and is now living and working in Manchester, not too far away from me. She rang me last month and told me she was getting a puppy! I’m probably the most excitable dog lover you’ll ever meet. I’m the weirdo who will go round to someone’s house and sit on the floor spooning their dog, rather than actually spend any time with them. So naturally, I was straight around to her house to meet the little pup! Last week we took her for her very first walk around the reservoir in Manchester and she absolutely loved it! Walks and puppy cuddles are the best form of stress relief from uni work I could ask for; oh, and it’s nice to see my best friend too!

"Arghh I have so many deadlin...aww look at the puppy! Let's go for a walk"

“Arghh I have so many deadlin…aww look at the puppy! Let’s go for a walk.”

The next six or seven weeks will be a whirlwind of excitement and stress which will see me through to the end of third year (well that’s a terrifying thought). It will bring with it: 4 coursework deadlines, 5 exams, 2 music gigs, 1 BBQ (hopefully – it is Manchester), 1 end of year ball and 1 trip to Barcelona! If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll remember that I booked holiday to Barcelona during Easter with some of my course friends to visit our friend who’s out there working in a zoology lab for his modern language year. Well things didn’t really go to plan; we went to the airport, got through security and were called to board the plane, but alas, our flight was suddenly cancelled due to the French air traffic control strikes. The next available flight was the day after we were supposed to return home. So we lost our entire holiday. They even made us show our boarding cards to go downstairs to arrivals, and then made us go through immigration because we’d “technically left the country”. Suffice to say, it was a pretty depressing train ride back to Fallowfield. We were absolutely gutted; a few days in the Spanish sun was just what we needed. However, we’ve just been refunded for the flights and now we’ve rebooked to go straight after final exams instead! I’m sure we’ll need the break even more by then, and it will be twice as hot. Silver linings and all that eh? Anyway, that’s enough blabbering from me; as usual, I should be doing my work.

Ciao for now,

Lucy

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