Summer Biology Internship

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s been over 12 months since I’ve been properly on campus – with an ERASMUS+ internship in Sweden and a placement year in the USA, it’s weird to be back! However, there’s no rest for the wicked so I’m back on another internship, this time a lot closer to home. The biosciences department offer a number of summer internships aimed at second years who are progressing into third year. This year, 6 lecturers offered internships, in disciplines such as genetics, ecology, microbiology, covering organisms including plants, invertebrates and humans. I was lucky enough to receive a place on Paul Ashton’s internship, after applying for two of them (you can apply for two internships maximum) with a CV and cover letter. Being abroad at the time of application, I participated in a Skype interview – a strange experience!

The subject area of my internship is titled, “Does meadow restoration conserve genetic variation?”, although I haven’t actually got to that part of the work yet! Before I start on that project (being worked on by a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and PhD student, Elizabeth Sullivan), I’m assisting on a different project to do with lime trees. This project is Carl Baker’s (a Postdoc Researcher). Right now I’ve been assisting in the final steps of DNA extraction, cleaning up the extracted DNA to try and get rid of any impurities in the samples. This process involves inverting and emptying a tube of liquid whilst keeping a pellet of DNA precariously stuck to the bottom – quite nerve-wracking to see your sample hanging by a thread!

Another unexpected aspect of this internship was setting up and running a session for the 2018 Edge Hill Biology Olympiad. The Olympiad is a series of challenges completed by teams from various sixth forms and colleges that come to Edge Hill University for the day. Each activity is graded and the scores released in a ceremony at the end of the day. I didn’t expect to be doing this kind of work but thoroughly embraced it – it was a great opportunity to push myself and see what it felt like to run a teaching exercise of sorts.

Maintaining Old Friendships in New Places

If you decide to attend university quite far away from where you were previously based, you might be worried about how the distance will affect your current friendships. Even if you do stay “close to home,” your friends might be going off to uni and be the ones who are far away. But being physically distant does not have to distance your friendships. As important as it is to make friends at Edge Hill University on your course, in your halls, and in societies, it’s always nice to keep in touch with friends whom you may have spent a good few harrowing years of your life with.

Video calling

Whether over Facebook, FaceTime, or Skype, video calls can be a great way to keep up with your closest friends from home. I’ve found that organising an actual time to call is the best way to make sure these things actually happen – otherwise, life gets in the way and you may end up putting it off or inadvertently being busy.

Gaming

If you and your friends share an interest in video games, then it can be a wonderful way of spending time with them, whilst also relaxing after a day of work. Whatever your preferred platform, personally I’d say microphones are a must. Being able to chat about life whilst you play is pretty great. Minecraft, Destiny, and Borderlands have been some of the games I’ve played whilst catching up with friends.

Rabb.it

Video chat with people AND watch tv. With Rabbit, you can have a typical video call, but stream shows, movies or games at the same time, so you can experience them together. Something I used to do with friends back home all the time, I admittedly haven’t used it much since coming to uni, but it’s a great resource that people should know about!

Visiting

Although it can be a tad expensive, and requires a bit of planning, visiting your old friends (or having them visit you) is one of the best things you can do to keep your friendships alive. If you book trains in advance, you can get a huge discount – even more so if you have a railcard (Santander 16-25 Railcard anyone?).

New Groupchat

After people move off from sixth-form/college, you may experience the death of a groupchat. This may be a long and slow death, the chat lingering on, with fewer and fewer people messaging, or it may be a swift and painless death. Either way, once you realise who has decided to move on, why not make a new groupchat? One with people who are still committed to maintaining old friendships.

What’s the Difference Between Uni and College/Sixth Form?

If you’re in sixth form or college and you’re considering starting university you might wonder how different it will be once you get there, right? I’ve found that there are a lot of differences between sixth form and university and I’d like to tell you about some of them. This way you can get your head around it all and will be completely prepared for your time at uni.

Tutors

Your relationship with your tutors and lecturers may be a little different to what you’re used to. The biggest difference I found between sixth form and uni is that you call them by their first names. None of this Mr and Mrs so-and-so nonsense, you have classes with Jim or Sue or whoever. Tutors also tend to treat you more like an adult than teachers do, they put you on a similar level to themselves, although they are educating you they don’t treat you like a child. They also tend to be more sociable – it’s actually okay and normal to see them at the SU and join them for a drink. It might still feel a bit weird to see them outside of uni, much like teachers but they do actually have social lives!

Lectures/Seminars

In my course at least, we have less working hours than what I was used to in school. The most I am in uni for day-to-day is four hours. A lot of my work is independent. Of course, this varies depending on what degree you choose to study. Some degrees have even more working hours, not to mention evening lectures! I did struggle to figure out the differences between lectures and seminars/workshops before I started uni, so I shall explain what I now know; lectures are huge and could have your entire year in a room, it’s more like a presentation than a class. But seminars are more intimate and more like a classroom setting – more what you’re used to in school and college.

Campus

Another difference is that I can bet that Edge Hill’s campus is far bigger than your school? Am I right? I mean some city unis even have their campus spread across the entire city! But what I love about Edge Hill is that it is all on one place, though it is huge. There are different buildings for different subjects, it’s like the blocks you’d have in school but on a much bigger scale. And of course, people can live on campus which makes it much easier to get to class!

Until Next Time! 🙂

Studying over Christmas

Creative Edge in the snow

Whether you’re a student at university, or a student in sixth form or college, you most likely have some work you should be doing right now: essays, assignments, coursework, reports, or the dreaded revision. But let’s be honest, with Christmas fast approaching and winter beginning in earnest on the 21st (the winter solstice), work is probably the last thing you want to be doing.

Now don’t fret, I’m not going to tell you that you’ve got to forgo the festivities to stay on top of your work load. My main piece of advice is to plan your distractions. What I mean is that you’re going to to be busy over the holidays with things unrelated to your studies: quality time with friends from home, family, last minute shopping, and possibly eating copious amounts of food. What I find helpful is to take note of when you think you’ll be likely to be doing all this socialising and plan your work around it. Slot in little revision sessions, or dedicated working periods, every other day when you know you’ll be relatively free from distractions. This will help you stay on track for January exams or deadlines without missing out on any of the fun.

Sometimes you need to be a bit selfish in that your work comes first. If you have work you know needs doing, you may have to turn down social activities to get it all done, even if it is your family – you’re allowed to say no! Ideally, you won’t have to, as long as you plan ahead. If you’re having trouble pinning down the exact timings of your social events, then scheduling a short half an hour study session on an uncertain day will guarantee you get something done. If even that is too much and you feel you need to revise, then carrying around flashcards on a busy day will ensure you’ll have something to feast your brain on. Otherwise, set time aside when you know you won’t be busy, and get working.

I myself have a written report due in January for Molecular Biology, and a closed book exam for both Molecular Biology and Life On The Edge. So I’m going to have to follow my own advice this holiday season!