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…
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.
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!
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,