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IC week 2: The work gets harder October 16, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Personal.
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This has without a doubt been a highly challenging week. We had our first lectures and practicals this week – and it’s not as easy as I thought. Our first practical consists of a TV broadcast in the style of BBC Question Time, which I’ll get to chair when we film tomorrow. Our lectures on the History of Science Communication and the communication relationships between science and society have been really stimulating, prompting some heated debates. Our first academic assignment is a challenge to turn a textbook extract into 75 lines of verse or a 200w story or drama (!). We had a very interesting seminar from a past student who is now a producer for BBC Radio. And because I just can’t get enough, I even sat in on the SMP group’s Film Form lectures (because I’m a film geek and they get to watch Antonioni movies in lesson time).

Balancing that though is the mammoth amount of reading we have to do: wads of prep to read, core texts, additional texts, strong suggestions to read ‘wider around the topic’, recommendations to read more media, watch more media, listen to more media. People have told us to get involved in whatever opportunities we can, get some experience in everything. One of my coursemates, Greg is ridiculously keen on all the media stuff and has rallied a team together to make a new weekly entertainment show for the IC TV station, STOIC. I’ve signed on because it’s a good opportunity to learn some camera work, watch editors, vision mixers and directors in action and also, it’s fun. You could also get involved with the radio station and I’m quite keen to write for the IC newspaper Felix or the IC Science magazine.

It’s demanding stuff and being the first week, I’ve found it very exciting but rather stressful as I try and find my feet. But because it’s all so hectic, you have to be on the ball all the time. There’s no chance for laziness, otherwise you’ll just die. So I’ve had to just roll with the punches, get my brain in order and make some tough decisions. Number 1: I need to be in the library every day because it is very clear that I can’t trust myself to concentrate at home. Number 2: I can’t do Japanese lessons. I’m struggling to do even two hours of JLPT practice a week. Number 3: The course (and hence my career) has to come first, which means dropping any outside social activity or interest if it means attending some networking event or getting some experience doing something relevant. This is just how it has to be for this year.

Part of what brought this epiphany on is a coincidental meeting. On Tuesday I attended a debate at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre on ‘The ethics of research involving animals’ (yes, based on the Nuffield report which I worked on – hence my reason for being there). Imagine my surprise to bump into my old coursemate Robin, who now works for RDS (Research Defense Society). It turns out she had just literally handed in her dissertation for the MSc in Science Communication at Imperial – yes, my bloody course! What are the chances? I even got to go to the previous year’s leaving party, which was coincidentally that night, prompting some surprised looks from my lecturers and some good advice from many of the graduates. The good news is they all have great jobs, so the course works. The scary thing is they are all remarkably charismatic and on the ball. And you know that makes me self-concious.

What has been good about this week is that it has forced me to take a good look at myself and deal with those frightning insecurities which constantly threaten to undermine me. I do get scared sometimes, I compare myself to others and I do often think that I am not good enough. But there is just no time for that. As I said, you either have to rise to it or die – especially in the media world – and as much as I hate pressure, I know it makes me take hold of things and just get on with it – no deliberating, no worrying, just do it and deal with the consequences afterwards. Half the time I’ve been really enthusiastic because I love the course, I love what we’re doing, I love my coursemates and I love campus life. But the other half of the time I’ve been absolutely terrified. It’s quite an adrenaline rush I tell you. Say what you want about fear, but it does get you off your arse.

I’m not sure how other stuff is gonna fit into this. AnimeSoc has been good because it’s on campus and after a full day of working, I’m quite happy to vegetate in front of anime for a couple of hours. But Badminton might be a problem since their sessions are on Wednesdays (clashing with anime), Thursdays 9-11pm (!) and 9am Sunday mornings. I want to do exercise, but I need something that fits my schedule. Some of the guys at EIC are hopefully going to organise a JLPT study group that will at least force me to study a bit of Japanese each week. Of course, I also need to keep some time flexible so that I can do take these last minute opportunities, socialise a bit (because socialising is networking now – no two ways about it) and maybe even find time to chill.

Deep breath. But don’t get the wrong idea. I have loved it and I do love what I’m doing. This week has been all about adjusting and next week it’ll all just come naturally to me.

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