My Revision Survival Guide

Just stop for a moment and look around you. We have swamped ourselves with technology. Now try and ascertain the most flawless engineering creation in your vicinity. Is it the light bulb, expelling all darkness with one switch, capable of even feeding a plant when daylight leaves? Or is it your cell phone; that ever present handy little device allowing you to scribble digitally, whenever, wherever and to whomever?

Man has come a long way in the speculated 340,000 years of his existence and technology has undoubtedly enabled us to meet many milestones. Yet isn’t it astounding to realise that the most spellbinding engineering marvel is the idiosyncratic combination of atoms that compose your own body? The world’s most perfect pump is at this very moment sitting right in your chest. With its unbelievable creation and incessant beating, the heart sends all your blood around your body some 1,000 times during the course of a single day. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. No light bulb or electronic gadget could sustain such workload without error. (Voila, I remember the figures from my Clinical Engineering & Medical Physics revision today.) With inventions such as pacemakers, heart stents and defibrillators, Biomedical Engineering allows our miraculous little fist-sized pump to stay invincible in the face of disease. While learning about pacemaker implantation, I came across this video on YouTube. I will accept that I teared up a little towards the end of the video. Motivation levels are high indeed!

 

On the subject of revision, I have about 2 weeks left till my finals begin. I have been burning the midnight oil in the library (purely idiomatic, thanks to modern technology I am not actually causing a fire and safety hazard in the library). After 17 years of being a student, one might expect to have found the perfect revision strategy but it’s probably a journey of a lifetime if not a constant battlefield. Nonetheless, there are a few things that definitely work for me and I hope they are of help to you!

1. Keep a revision timetable!
You have already heard this way too many times before, you’ve tried it and it usually flops (said every student ever). For me, revision timetables are more about telling me how much I still have left to revise rather than how I should revise. I always make two time timetables, a realistic one that I have to follow no matter what and another very ambitious one, which is not easy to keep up with but definitely does keep me on my toes (mind games). Just update your revision schedule from time to time but don’t beat yourself up over not being able to do the 100 lecture slides you promised yourself in the schedule. Quality not quantity, remember!

'You mean I have to learn it as well?'

2. Create the study atmosphere that works for you

No social media websites opened on your computer and your phone on silent mode is a great a place to start. Make sure you are sitting in a good posture (at home I usually succumb to the comfort of my bed) and that you have healthy snacks and water to keep you energised! I find study music helpful to keep me calm and focused while I am doing my calculations. Also cutting down on those 2 hours of sleep might just reduce your efficiency through the whole day! American companies are losing $63.2 billion a year due to sleep deprivation, according to a 2013 study from Harvard Medical School. Sleep is as important as water and food, don’t fight your body clock!

A friend from Business Management getting too comfortable!

 

3. Allow yourself breaks!

Here is one shocking fact. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average transient attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. Not very encouraging is it? Well the good news is that that most healthy teenagers and adults are able to sustain attention on one thing for about 20 minutes at a time, and they can choose repeatedly to re-focus on the same thing. This ability to renew attention permits people to “pay attention” to things that last for more than a few minutes, such as long movies. The NHS says that taking regular short breaks while you’re working may help. A break every 45 to 60 minutes is about right. During your breaks reward yourself with some family time or take a little power nap. Work hard; play not-quite-as-hard is the motto here.

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Guilty as charged!

 

4. Know your goal and keep reminding yourself of it!

I am a big advocate of 8 hours of sleep, yet I do have to pull an all nighter on the odd occasion. Watching one of my favourite TED talks before I begin always helps me focus on the bigger picture. The tedious mathematical calculations you might be struggling with probably have very important applications in the practical work!

My High School Graduation!

Cant wait for graduation day!

5. Make revision notes!

And keep making them again and again. I have notes from my lectures, elaborate revision, and summary notes, right up to the one sheet filled with important formulae that I will be reviewing just before the exam. Apparently the most successful candidates often make as many as three sets of the same notes in a run up to the exams which help them to memorise the required information. Using coloured pens and highlighters helps draw attention to important pointers!

via my notes queen friend!

Via my most organised friend!

6. Have faith in yourself!

Confidence is the key! You have come so far, you are working hard, and you will be just fine! If not, there are plenty of people who did well in life without 100 per cent in every single exam. Just stay positive and take that unnecessary pressure off yourself. Think about the glorious summer that awaits you and allow yourself to be happy through the revision period!

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Waiting for Summer 2015!

 

Good luck, now get back to work! I will too!

 

 

 

 

Quick Update!

I realise that my last few blogs have been quite lengthy so I will try to keep this one short and simple and just update you with what I have been up to lately. Semester 2 is over! Second year went by so quickly; I cannot believe that I graduate next year. On the subject of graduation, did you know that the top English designer Vivienne Westwood designed our eye catching graduation gowns? The colours of the gowns and hoods have been designed to reflect the College’s faculties of study, and each features a King’s lion button on each shoulder. Pretty cool, right?

 

Coral for me!

Coral for me!

 

On top of that, students who are graduating with a King’s College London award, and who have completed the Associateship of King’s College (AKC), will wear as part of their academic dress a black epitoge embroidered with the university’s lion ‘Reggie’, buttoned to the left shoulder. I recently did my AKC exam I will talk more about the programme in my next blog. I will try to dedicate a blog to Reggie in the near future as well. Wow, there is always so much I want to share with you!

The AKC epitoge!

The AKC epitoge!

 

As you might be aware, King’s has 5 campuses namely Guy’s, Strand, Waterloo, St Thomas’ Hospital and Denmark Hill. I work as a campus guide for the Strand and Guy’s campus and one of the most rewarding aspects of this job is interacting with the most enthusiastic prospective students from all across the world. A typical campus tour consists of a short presentation followed by a tour of the campus. Usually I end my tours asking people if they need help with directions getting home, we exchange our thank-yous and goodbyes and that’s about it. Yesterday when I finished delivering a tour all the attendees broke into applause. I have lost count of how many tours I have delivered by now but this was a first. It was quite unexpected and very touching as well. I love my job anyway but moments like this can this really lift you up.

Final exams are approaching. I have 3 exams this time towards the end of May, which gives me a little over a month to prepare. About a month or so before exam period, all King’s libraries stay open 24/7, which is great for students like me who give in to untimely catnaps while revising at home. There are study areas for all kinds of students: silent and no food allowed, silent and food allowed, quiet talking and no food, quite talking and food, group discussion and food, the list goes on. I use Guy’s library on most days and it’s so lovely to sit in the courtyard during lunch breaks. I could get used to this weather!

Guy's Quad

Guy’s Quad during summer

The Future is Now!

Wow. It was only 60 years ago when on December 23rd, 1954 the first successful human organ transplant was led by Dr. Joseph Murray and Dr. David Hume at Brigham Hospital in Boston: A kidney was transplanted from Ronald Herrick into his identical twin, Richard. The recipient lived for eight years following the transplant and the surgeon who performed the transplant, Dr. Joseph Murray, went on to win the Nobel Prize for this work. Subsequent transplant surgeries were successful but also brought attention to the critical issue of tissue rejection. Unless the donor is the identical twin of the recipient, the recipient’s body will always reject the donor organ. In order to combat this rejection, the patient must take lifelong anti-rejection drugs, which compromise the immune system and greatly increase the risk of the patient dying from infections.

In the late 1980s, the field of regenerative medicine emerged and now includes products that use cells to repair damaged organs and to grow organs outside the body for transplant into the patient. Thereafter 3D printing came into play and for years, scientists have been able to “print” types of human tissue using a 3D printer. In a major medical breakthrough, researchers in Biomedical Engineering have managed to 3D bio-print capillaries, the tiny channels that allow vascularisation to take place so that cells can sustain themselves and survive. Biomedical engineer and a leader of the research, the University of Sydney’s Dr Luiz Bertassoni said, “While printing organs may be a couple of decades away, I also wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong about that because this type of engineering is moving so rapidly. I would so love to be wrong.”

The field is indeed moving very rapidly. Biomedical engineers are expected to have 21 per cent employment growth through 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. Biomedical Engineers imagine seamlessly and have lead to international advances in medicine that have redefined even the rubric of healthcare. But I was still taken by shock when I learnt about a latest development in my field during a lecture for my Biomedical Engineering Professional Issues module. While I am sitting here basking in the sun, I learnt that there are researchers out there who are working day and night to make the first human head transplant possible. Yes you read it right. A complete human head transplant! Not to be confused with another hypothetical, surgical operation, the brain transplant, a head transplant will involve decapitating the patient. And it has already been successfully performed using dogs, monkeys and rats.

In all seriousness, if you don’t know the story of Mike the Headless Chicken, also known as Miracle Mike, now is a good time to look it up. Miracle Mike survived for 18 months after having his head chopped off. The first monkey to undergo a head transplant led by Robert J.White on March 14, 1970 was not as lucky and only lived for 9 days.  The procedure was a success to some extent, with the animal being able to smell, taste, hear, and see the world around it. In 2002, other head transplants were also conducted in Japan in rats. Unlike the head transplants performed by Dr. White, however, these head transplants involved grafting one rat’s head onto the body of another rat that kept its head. Thus, the rat ended up with two heads. The scientists said that the key to successful head transplants was to use low temperatures. A human head transplant would most likely require cooling of the brain to the point where all neural activity stops. This is to prevent neurons from dying while the brain is being transplanted.

Dr. Jerry Silver, an expert in regrowing severed nerves stated “I think [head transplants are] fairly barbaric at this point. I do not even see that 100 years from now it is a possibility. If anybody did that today, it would be absolutely horrible. Can you imagine looking around the room, and you’re just a head?”. “I would not wish this on anyone,” says a prominent neurologist. “There are a lot of things worse than death.” (One science writer calls it “insane. Like, James Bond villain insane.”)  Dr Calum Mackellar, from the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, added: “This sounds like something from a horror movie.”

And yet, a 30-year-old computer scientist, Valery Spiridonov, suffering from a fatal muscle wasting disease has agreed to be the first human to undergo a head transplant stating that he has ‘few choices’. An Italian Surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero is set to become the first in the world to transplant a human head on to a donor body in 2017. Following a 36 hour surgery, the patient would be put into a three or four-week coma to let the body heal itself while embedded electrodes stimulate the spinal cord to strengthen the new nerve connections .The patient won’t be able to get up and walk around after the surgery. Dr Canavero said that the damage to the spinal cord would take about 12 months to heal fully. The patient would however keep their old voice, he adds.

‘’This is such an overwhelming project, the possibility of it happening is very unlikely,” said Harry Goldsmith, professor of neurological surgery at the University of California. If successful, however, this procedure will become a milestone of medical history and potentially could save millions of people.

Isn’t it astounding to witness how far we have come in the past 60 years? There are a lot of question circulating around with regard to this procedure. How much of an issue would tissue rejection be for Spirindov’s head? What will happen to his mind? According to one speculation, there’s no telling what the transplant – and all the new connections and foreign chemicals that his head and brain will have to suddenly deal with – will do to Spiridonov’s psyche, as Hootan puts it, it “could result in a hitherto never experienced level and quality of insanity”.  Also, if we are talking about human head transplants today, what is next big leap in Biomedical Engineering? What is the perfection of healthcare? Should we ever stop? Leaves a lot of room for thought, doesn’t it?

Why I chose to study Biomedical Engineering

I am quite excited right now. And what could make a very tired Amber excited at 10pm in the night after a library day? Writing this blog! We all know how much I love being a student at King’s. But what I love even more is the realisation every day that by studying this course I am following my passion and enjoying every bit of it. I was very sure about Biomedical Engineering by the time I applied for this degree but it was not easy for me to find my focal point until I actually had to make the big decision. ‘Why I chose Biomedical Engineering’ could have been my introductory blog post but I was not sure if my readers would learn much from it. Turns out I was wrong. I have been asked this question so many times by prospective students including many of my readers and I promised a campus tour attendee last week that I would talk about it in my next blog post. So without further ado, lets get into it. Heads up, content might seem a bit dull/narcissistic or different from my usual blogs but if this post brings clarity to even one person reading this, then I am more than happy to share!

 

Story time.

 

When I was in year 8, I had to decide what subjects I wanted to take for my GCSEs. My heart was set on a career in Finance & Banking. On the way to school every day I would see this beautiful skyscraper and wish to work for that bank one day. I wanted to take up business subjects to start working towards my dream but a part of me was not ready to give up Sciences so early. So listening to my family’s advice, I decided to keep all my options open for a while and went for the standard Biology, Chemistry and Physics combination. Looking back now, I can’t thank enough my younger self for the foresightedness. I aced my exams and felt more drawn towards Science after bagging the A*s. By that time, I had also developed a strong interest in Psychology, IT and English Literature. Needless to say, my head was all over the place. For the first 2 weeks of my A level, I was hopping from one taster class to another falling in love with every subject and feeling increasingly desperate to find my focus. I wanted to be a surgeon, an astronaut, a web developer, a theoretical physicist, a writer and a psychologist all at the same time. I was not confused because I didn’t know what to do; my brain was muddled because I wanted to do each thing just as much. I wanted a great career but I could just not make up my mind.

 

Once again though, I could not get myself to drop Science. I had looked at the syllabus for all subjects and was really keen to learn more about the infamous so-called ‘challenging’, A level subject combination of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. So I did. And I absolutely loved it. I wanted to explore Science beyond just my curriculum. I applied for the post of Science president and was successful. We organised major Science events, took part in and won national as well as international level competitions, it was a year of many successes for the society. The Science Club won the award for Society of the Year and by then I knew that I would be studying Science at university.

 

Celebrating Science!

Celebrating Science during my A level!

 

As much as the idea of studying Medicine appealed to me for all the obvious reasons, I could not see myself being capable of happily retaining and regurgitating heaps of anatomical knowledge discovered years ago. I needed a course that was fresh, applied, and allowed room for growth and creativity. My irrevocable love for Mathematics and Physics made the choice easier for me. Engineering it was. What type of engineering was the next big question. And the UCAS deadline was a just few months away.

Between a constant tirade of family medical emergencies and the subsequent distress due to substandard healthcare practices that plagued much of my developing country, from a very young age I had longed to witness a revolutionization of the practice of Medicine. Limitations suffocated me. As much as the prospect of software or mechanical engineering appealed to me, I did not feel settled with either of the options. And then one day I just found my hook. While watching a YouTube video as well! Who would’ve thought?

 

 

This Ted talk reduced me to tears and greatly impacted me. I wondered, why should someone with an amputated arm miss the feeling of a handshake when he could get a touch-sensitive prosthetic? Or why should someone die waiting for a kidney donor when 3D printing can use living cells to output transplantable organs? Whether it is by treating a cancer patient using proton beam therapy or by bridging an individual’s liver functions using a bio artificial liver device, I realised that what medical breakthroughs have given best to the world is a sense of hope. I yearned to do the same. I wanted to stretch the lengths to which we can go to fix a human body when needed so that nobody gives up on their dreams because of disability or disease. I had found my purpose.

I began a meticulous research on career pathways that could lead me to my ‘purpose’ and read books like Edge of Medicine by William Hanson that enhanced my comprehension of Biomedical Engineering. To broaden my perspective on Biomedical Engineering, I interned at the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and learnt about biomaterials, in particular artificial hydroxyapatite, a compound chemically similar to the mineral component of bones and hard tissues in mammals. I contacted universities and asked them many questions. With no room left for doubt, I had finally made up my mind.

 

Randy Pausch in his inspiring ‘Last Lecture’ talks about how bricks walls are there just to see how much you want something; they are there to stop the ‘other’ people. The course I wished to study was not offered in my country, international fees were high and I was not eligible to apply for any loans outside of home. I was tiny and feeble but when I couldn’t break the brick walls, like an ant marching ahead purposely, I crawled upon them. Countless applications, exam results and somersaulting family circumstances later, I was on a plane with a scholarship in hand.

In retrospection, I have never felt more in place anywhere else than I do now while studying Biomedical Engineering at King’s College London. I am a plant spreading out its leaves in the sunlight of all things new. The heroes I revered are now my mentors, programming languages are second to me after my mother tongue and I am blooming with every equation that is scribbled over the blank white portions of my mind. I am a lover of knowledge. Even today, I am fascinated by a lot of disciplines, but I am not studying a course that I am just interested in. By studying to become a Biomedical Engineer, I am following my heart and passion and I would not have it any other way.

So here it is, the long blog post about why I chose Biomedical Engineering. I realise that the focus/clarity or hook does not always come easily or early enough. But have faith in yourself, pay attention to the nagging voice in your head and follow your heart. If you are passionate enough, you are good enough. So silence your fears, dare to dream, dream big, and chase your dream. Success will follow. Realise deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, the moment is now. And remember what T.D Jakes said, ‘If you can’t figure out your purpose, find out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.’
Until next time guys!

All Hail CTRL+S !

I might seem very focused and I might appear to be doing-it-all-right at university and maybe to some extent, I am, but by no means I can pass as your stress-free model student. On the contrary, it is not unlikely to find me finishing my homework on the bus to a 9am lecture, or having my first meal of the day in the 5 minutes break during an evening class or napping under the desk in a library around exam time. And you know what, I don’t mind any of that even one bit. University is not all about attaining perfection neither is it about making no mistakes. If anything, being a student at one of the best universities in the world has taught me that its alright to falter; as long as you believe in yourself and have set your mind and heart to your goal, no matter how many times you fall short, you can accomplish anything. Criss Jami in her book Killosophy wrote “The harder you fall, the heavier your heart; the heavier your heart, the stronger you climb; the stronger you climb, the higher your pedestal.” This quote perfectly resonates with me and I hope it does with you as well, if not now in future it will. And let me share a secret with you, if anyone at university tells you that they have never struggled, then they have probably attained some superhero qualities and in that case you should most certainly befriend them. Who knows knowing one of the lead characters from the Avengers might even win you free tickets to the next movie?

 

So now that I have convinced you that it is okay for me to be imprudent on the odd occasion, let me talk about the time I nearly caused myself a panic attack before a deadline. Following the advent of computers, CTRL+S was probably the wisest development of the 21st century. Yet there are still people like myself who become so absorbed while working on their essays that they don’t even remember to hit this simple combination of keys that saves their assignments (read lives). This particular coursework accounted for 15% of my Introduction to Clinical Engineering & Medical Physics module and the deadline was for 6pm. I have this habit of going over my assignments until the last hour to ensure that everything is perfect. So as the clock struck 5 15pm on this bright sunny day, I was proudly reviewing my references, until, my MacBook decided to crash. Reactions such as shock and denial are typical protective devices used by the human body to cope with distressing situations. I was certain that auto recovery would bring me back my essay however 20 minutes of search later, despondence began to cascade over me as I realised that I had no choice left but to submit my terrible draft from the night before. My misery was only to magnify when I realised that my Wi-Fi had gone down too. With only 5 minutes till the deadline, there was no time to spare (or to cry). I tethered my iPhone’s 4G to my MacBook and logged into Keats (King’s E-Learning and Teaching Service) sharp at 6pm. Unfortunately the lecturer hadn’t allowed late submissions (sometimes you can be a few seconds late and get away with it). I emailed my assignment to the lecturer explaining the situation. Accepting my fate and knowing that I would not get a good mark owing to a simple mistake I decided to go out for some fresh air (or ice-cream?). Teary eyed and heavy hearted, just when I was closing all my tabs and logging out, something happened that could only be explained as a miraculous occurrence. I had left auto-recovery running in the background and it had finally found a read only version of my ‘actual essay’. In a flurry of emotion, I formatted my essay in less than 60 seconds and emailed it to the lecturer. I was so flustered that I ended up sending multiple emails to him. It was only when he replied back saying that the submission has been accepted and I could relax that I remembered to breathe again. It was only a few minutes past my deadline but I had been on a roller coaster ride (while sitting in the exact same spot) and really deserved some ice cream now.

 

Not all terrible stories have terrible endings. I just got my grade back for the assignment and I have got a first! Whoop whoop! Many lessons learnt from this experience. The reason why I am sharing this with you is to prevent you from making a similar mistake when you are at university. But know that on the off chance if you do, don’t ever give up and do all you can to rectify it. Regardless of the situation, whether your story has a happy ending or not depends on when you choose to accept defeat and end the story. And learn from the girl who got into trouble for not hitting CTRL+S and got out of it against all odd, never accept defeat. As long as you keep pushing, everything will be all right. Like John Lennon one said, ‘everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, its not the end’.

 

PS: Don’t you agree that our lecturers here at King’s are well nice?!

A Week Full of Appreciation

Its been raining heavily this week in London. To make things even more difficult, the wind broke my favourite (and only) umbrella. Naturally and like any other Londoner, I was complaining a lot about the weather until yesterday when I came across this YouTube video.

In less than three minutes, little Kayden hurled me back into a whirlpool of reminiscence. Born and raised in a country with sub tropical climate and low annual rainfall, I was taught to treasure every drop of water that fell from the sky. Whenever it rained in the city of Lahore, my Facebook newsfeed flooded with status updates appreciating the weather. Upon hearing the first sound of thunder, preparations began to make food delicacies associated with rain both by street vendors and at home. In the air filled with celebration and gratitude, the gentle tapping of raindrops against the window, the splashing puddles, the aroma of freshly fried samosas and the white noise from the radio playing tunes praising the rain, there was unparalleled happiness and contentment. After watching the video, I wondered if my new hateful perception of rain could be justified, and upon finding no valid excuse I plugged in my headphones, bought some churros from Borough Market and for the first time time enjoyed the rain London style.

While we are on the subject of appreciation, some of you might remember me mentioning lectures that leave me feeling so invigorated that each time I feel the need to advertise to my friends that I just walked out of the best lecture of my life. That happened again last week after I received my first lecture about finite element method (FEM) as part of my Computational Methods module. The basic concept in the physical interpretation of the FEM is the subdivision of the mathematical model into disjoint (non-overlapping) components of simple geometry called finite elements or elements for short. The disconnection-assembly concept occurs naturally when examining many artificial and natural systems. For example, it is easy to visualize an engine, bridge, building, airplane, or skeleton as fabricated from simpler components. I know this all sounds quite complicated, and it certainly is, but the lecture delivered was so interestingly structured that 20 minutes into it I was compelled to seek a career in the discipline.

 

The humour keeps you awake!

The humour keeps you awake!

We make these every day!

Who knew science could be so artistic!

As part of the King’s Student Ambassador Scheme, I had the opportunity to visit a school and chat with the students about what I do at university. It was an all-girls school with the majority of students speaking to me doing their GCSEs. Once again, I was reminded of my own school days when I would be standing as part of a crowd during the morning school assembly, listening to an alumna sharing her own inspiring story, and day-dreaming about the wide world that lay beyond the school walls. This day when I spoke, however, there was no stage, or microphones, or a crowd, which meant that I was not just talking ‘at’ the students, I was talking ‘to’ them. For me this was the most worthwhile aspect of this visit as turning the most shy of students into an excited bunch after a 5-minute conversation is quite a feat. I was worried that I might be a bit cranky, as I had had a sleepless night before the visit, yet I walked home smiling from ear to ear that day. In my attempt to inspire those girls to take up science at university, I found inspiration for myself in their interest and appreciation of what I do. What a precious privilege it is to live the life you love and still make it count!

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Team King’s hard at work!

 

Student Takeover at Big Hero 6 UK Release!

Our course director delivered my first lecture at King’s. Not only was the introduction to Anatomy & Physiology absolutely perceptive, there were numerous life lessons hidden in subtext.
‘There will be many opportunities here at university, in fact, if you can imagine something, you can have it here. Now its upon you whether you go grab those opportunities and fulfil your dreams or make no use of what is available to you.’
These might not have been his exact words, but the point he made has stayed with me to this day. When I made a decision to study abroad and come to the UK, I knew I no longer sought a comfort zone. When you come to university as a fresher, you get to see a lot of this triangle:

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They say that you can only choose two of these. For many people, it might be the case but for me as long as my grades and health is unaffected, my polygon must stay multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. What’s the fun in playing it safe after all?

Of the many fantastic King’s Experience opportunities I have made use of so far, one that easily tops the list is applying to be a student ambassador. This post allows me to be a face of King’s, meet some brilliant student ambassadors from across over 150 different courses at King’s, interact with prospective students as well as our administration and faculty and contribute to the marketing side of the university. I always enjoy the work opportunities that I sign up for however last weekend’s assignment at Big Hero 6 UK release was by far the most fun-filled job I have done during my time at King’s.

Our instructions were simple. It was a student takeover By King’s at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square where Big Hero 6 was releasing. In an attempt to make our little contribution towards Disney’s goal of promoting education and science through this movie, our task was to show the cinema goers that what was shown in the movie is actually possible in real life. If you have watched the movie (you must if you haven’t), you would know that it has got everything to do with Biomedical Engineering. We apply classical engineering principles in academia or industry to create products that facilitate healthcare; Baymax is the dream product for any Biomedical Engineer. The department gave us some biomedical engineering exhibits to display at the movie release. We had a light-detecting robot, another remote controlled 6-legged robot, wireless blood pressure wrist monitors and some 3D printed models. Physics, Robotics, Chemistry and Mathematics had some very fascinating exhibits as well, which made our student takeover a treat for kids. Usually when we are working as student ambassadors, the attendees are either prospective students or have already got a place at King’s, their fascination for what we do is somewhat expected. However what made this weekend so worthwhile for me was the awe and excitement in the children’s eyes when they learnt about what we do in our degree although university is quite far ahead in future for them.

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The cinema administration was lovely and some of us even had a chance to watch the movie for free! Needless to say, I loved Big Hero 6. It perfectly resonated with me and the 3D Imax screen was just glorious. On my way home, I was carrying a suitcase containing the exhibits through a staircase at Leicester Square underground station when a young teenager offered to help me with it. Having been surrounded by scientific exhibits for the past two days and still wearing my ambassador t-shirt I wasn’t expecting much of a reaction when I said ‘Oh thank you I am fine it is just a couple of light weight robots.’ He stopped in his tracks and asked me ‘You have robots?’ to which I replied, ‘We actually make robots’. He then actually asked me if I had seen Big Hero 6 yet and I just smiled to myself and asked him if he wanted the Big Hero 6 poster I got from the event (of course he said yes). The child kept thanking me when in fact I was probably more grateful to him and to many others like him at the movie release for making me recognise yet again the worth of what I left the comfort of home for.

Thank you KCL NMS for this amazing work opportunity and for the fantastic work environment. King’s, I am satisfied with my care!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Thanks to my very accurate pre-bedtime mental calculations, last night I had the sinking realisation that today I am actually exactly halfway through my degree. 1.5 years completed and 1.5 more to go. Unsurprising for my borderline philosophical brain, now I am faced with the classic proverbial question. Is the glass half-full or half empty?

 

There is no doubt that London life is very fast paced. Therefore in the rare moments of reflections and retrospection, it is incredibly overwhelming to recognize how much being a student at King’s has changed me. The process of one’s evolution in university environment should be un-haltered and for me it definitely has been the case. Yesterday as I was walking home after doing some campus tours while I was working as a student ambassador at a Post Graduate Open day, I found myself in the exact same spot where I stood on my first day in London.

 

I had come to the area to familiarise myself with the campus before lectures started but being a stranger to Google maps, I had stopped right by the rear side of the Strand Campus to ask a gentleman where King’s College London was. I remember him laughing and gesturing to entire spread of buildings before my eyes as he said ‘You have reached your destination’. My decision to come to King’s had been based on its great reputation and my course structure and content, but as I stood before the magnificent 180 years old building, I knew that before even walking into a single lecture room yet, I was already in love with my university.

 

I have never felt more in place anywhere else than I do now while studying Biomedical Engineering at King’s College London. I am a plant spreading out its leaves in the sunlight of all things new. The heroes I revered are now my mentors, programming languages are second to me after my mother tongue and I am blooming with every equation that is scribbled over the blank white portions of my mind. Without any exaggeration, there have been many occasions where I walked out of my lecture and excitedly texted my friends saying ‘I just had the best lecture of my life’. If anything, my appreciation for King’s has only magnified by leaps and bounds from the day I first fell in love with the rear side of the building.

 

I remember reading the following quote somewhere a couple of years back and wondering if my engineer self would ever agree with it. It says: the optimist thinks the glass is half full; the pessimist thinks the glass is half empty; the engineer thinks the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. Apologies to my aspiring engineer self, but my cup is still not twice as big as it needs to be. It might be half filled, but while there’s room for half more, why settle for any less? As much as the idea of leaving King’s saddens me, I am very content with the 1.5 years I have spent here and absolutely can’t wait to see what the other half has to offer.

P.S: Without giving much of it away yet, this weekend there will be KCL student takeover at the Big Hero 6 screening in Empire Cinema, Leicester Square at which I will be working as a student ambassador. Yes! We get to work at cinemas! (and will also be able to watch the movie free of cost). I am very excited to present some fancy gadgets from my department and will posting all about my weekend in the next blog! Meanwhile I hope you enjoy the trailer!

 

 

 

Semester 2 and London!

Sometimes I cannot decide what I love more? King’s or London? Being a student at one of the most central London universities allows you to be touristy everyday and without effort. Semester 2, as promised to us, is actually quite manageable and the timetable leaves us with time to do other things. We have 4 modules this semester:

Introduction to Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering
Computational Methods
Signal and Image Processing
Biomedical Engineering Professional Issues (non-assessed)

Due to our great location, we have some fantastic views of the city from all our campuses. Many of our lectures this semester are in the afternoon (which means that I can finally wake up late and avoid the rush hour traffic) and thanks to the sun setting very early in winters, I have witnessed some of the most spectacular sunsets over the past two weeks.

London Night View from a Classroom Window

London night view from a classroom window

Sunset from Strand Campus floor 9!

Sunset from Strand Campus floor 9

At just a 5 minutes walk from my campus is the vibrant Trafalgar Square. On Wednesday evening to celebrate some new Channel 4 TV shows they commissioned the interactive public art people at Greyworld to create the UK’s first ever night rainbow! Needless to say, it was spectacular and got me jumping around the square in excitement like a little leprechaun!

Night Rainbow made out of water and lights!

Night Rainbow made out of water and lights!

About 10 minutes walking distance from Strand Campus and right next to the Waterloo Campus is the Royal Festive Hall. At the heart of South Bank Centre complex, it is one of the world’s leading performance venues. I had the chance to see Rachmaninoff : Inside Out being performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The first of its kind for me (pardon me, I am a foreign student) it was a surreal experience and definitely sold classical music to me. Royal Albert Hall is the next destination now!

London Philharmonic Orchestra creating magic!

London Philharmonic Orchestra creating magic!

Exams are over!

Whether I am happy with my performance in January exams or not, my friends and family definitely are ecstatic that they are finally over. I wouldn’t blame them. I had been very stressed and noisy about my 5 back-to-back exams for months. King’s books the exam venue for only a week in January so the finals had to be fit in those 5 days, there was no other way around it. We wanted to get done with the modules eagerly too while everything was fresh in our minds and were looking forward to the relatively relaxing second semester. And since we were had been informed about the exam timetable from day one, we were anticipating the challenge!

 

Nevertheless, it was a very exhausting examination period, and required a lot of planning and preparation beforehand. As much as we could’ve wanted to stay up all night before a particular exam, we needed to make sure that we were awake for the next exam and therefore nothing could be left for the last minute. I recall taking 19 examinations during my a levels, many times having multiple exams on a single day, and that was a constant reminder for me to be as prepared as possible before the exam week began. I was quite happy with how I managed to organise myself and get 8 hours of sleep every night and stay relaxed. Maybe this was King’s way of sneakily teaching us stress management and organisational skills!

 

Like always we ended the exams with a little celebration! Together with the first years we went for lunch followed by a movie and a trip to our lovely student bar, waterfront. It was a much-needed fun night for all of us. We get back our results in a month or so. The second semester began on the following Monday and I will be posting about it in my next blogs!