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!
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.
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.
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,