Second year Genetics Student, Kali Ravel, has undoubtedly thrown herself in to being a student at Manchester. Whether she’s attending her regular 11-5 lab sessions, undertaking work as a Student Ambassador or simply baking biscuits, it seems that she’s always on the go. Where some students like to squeeze in as much down time as possible, Kali likes to stay productive at all times – and yes, completing video games is definitely productive! Here, she talks us through a typical week in her hectic student life…
Every semester, my schedule varies depending on whether we have labs that week. In other weeks, I would have an entire day of independent study on Monday, but today I need to get up and go dissect some flowers to take pictures of their genitals. Fun! I have a big project – worth a whole 10 credits – due at the end of the month, so I get to Stopford early to work on it. It might look like my schedule would be pretty empty without labs, but, as well as the project, one of my modules this semester is entirely online. I am rarely bored!
Although labs are scheduled until 5pm, they rarely run that long. Today, we finish at 3pm. I’d normally go swimming with the Swim Club this evening, but light microscopy has given me a bit of a headache, so I take some ibuprofen, relax for a bit, and go for a run when I feel better. Then I go shopping and make packed lunches for the rest of the week. I am absurdly proud of this. I spend the rest of the evening running, typing up more notes, playing games, and watching Friends. Unless stated otherwise, it is safe to assume that this is what I’m doing on any given day. I’m also catching up with actual friends via WhatsApp and Facebook; I’m an introvert, not a hermit!
I have an ‘omics lecture at 9am. I meet a friend in the classroom at 8am, to work on our projects and draw on the blackboard a little. In other weeks, I’d sit in the Alan Turing cafe afterwards and write up my notes immediately, but I need to hustle to get to the lab for 11am. I sit in the Stopford cafe with a friend and work there for an hour instead. Later on, I have a relaxing lunch in the Stopford Courtyard, with the fattest, tamest pigeon you can imagine. I do some extra reading and go back inside when the sun does.
This seems like an appropriate time to tell you that I have ADHD, hence the secret study spots to avoid distractions. This is always why I get to lectures early. My only other option is to be late. The biggest ADHD thing I do today is let my coat get locked in the lab. I stayed at Stopford to study from 5pm to 7pm today and forgot that it was still there. Luckily, a kind security guard helped me rescue it.
No labs today; instead, I have an evolutionary biology lecture and then go to my part-time job. In the lab. I’m a student ambassador, one of those people in red hoodies who guides new applicants around on their interview days. My role for this semester is to help applicants during their introductory lab sessions. It’s a great role; it’s often the most fun part of the day for the applicants and I’m learning a lot about the practical day-to-day work of laboratory scientists. Sometimes, there is cake.
I spend my evening alternating video games with typing up lecture notes. This semester I have 6 lectures a week and I aim to type up at least one per day, so I’ll have a complete set of notes ready to go when exam revision starts. I go for another run, after spending twenty minutes hunting for my keys.
This morning I have, again, lost my keys. I also forgot to print the lecture slides. Luckily, I’m early so I have time to go and print them in the PC cluster at Alan Turing. After the lecture, more lab! It’s started snowing now, and that highlights one of the things that I was told about Manchester, but didn’t fully understand. I thought, I’m only moving two hours down the motorway, how cold can it be? Very. It is very, very cold. Manchester is in a weird little basin, which means it has its own unique weather patterns. Halfway through my first semester I acknowledged my failure to prepare, and bought a hat, scarf, and gloves with bunnies on them. I lost my bunny gloves about a week ago, but I refuse to buy a new pair because I’m sure they’ll turn up at some point. My hands are very cold. Swim Club this evening!
No labs today, but, as you can see from my schedule, three lectures and a tutorial. Attendance at tutorials is compulsory. Attendance at lectures is not compulsory, which is not the same as optional. If you miss a lecture, you still have to learn the material but by yourself, without the lecturer there to explain it. I try not to miss lectures. I study in Stopford PC Cluster 1 after Tutorial and it is there that I find my bunny gloves. I must have left them here last time. Oops! At least I got them back; I lost a calculator in the same way last year.
I sleep in a little, and then go and meet a friend at the library for a study date in the stacks. I dress as a mermaid. A cosy mermaid. I go over to my boyfriend’s in the evening; we bake together and then I have a bubble bath and he brings me tea and biscuits, which is what I both need and deserve from a relationship.
On Sundays, I make a plan for the week; what deadlines I have coming up, which meals I need to prepare, what food I need to buy, and what academic housekeeping is most pressing. I also make a note to vacuum at some point. Vacuuming has been on my to-do list for three months now. I’m not even sure we own a vacuum. I do a bit more studying and then I end the weekend by watching Friends: The Unauthorized Musical, because it turns out that that exists!