Brum's famous canals
More than Venice. Not quite the same though is it.
Of all the places in the UK to blog about, Birmingham seems a strange choice. The second biggest city in the UK but famous for not much. “More canals than Venice” is the oft quoted tagline but then Libya probably has more sand than the Seychelles and I know where I’d rather go.
Many superlatives are often attached to this city though usually in the negative. I actually find the accent quite endearing and some parts aren’t that ugly. Many people wondered why the hell I was moving here and many of those were from here. So, having travelled to and lived in countries just because they have great mountains, and having moved on from countries because their towns are ugly, why move to the flattest, least aesthetically pleasing part of Britain?
I have never written anything about the rock on which I was born, despite the fact that I’ve visited it a fair few times since I started writing this blog. It’s not that I’m completely disregarding of the UK but I’ve seen the country as a place to return to for long enough to see family and friends and quickly earn some cash
Walk under the clock tower when the bell rings and you fail your finals.
before moving back somewhere sunnier with more volcanoes and monkeys.
This visit has been more than a flying one. Given that I’ve been intending to write a blog since I moved here in September, and it’s now May, is testament to just how intensive this master’s course has been. The last exam was last week and this week my shoulders have dropped six inches and I can breathe. And not feel guilty for reading a book, stopping to make a cup of tea or walking to the shops (cycling is quicker so gave more time for revision).
Having toyed with doing a master’s ever since I finished my first degree, I decided 2012 was the time. Teaching English is fun but it’s poorly paid and was never intended to be a career. The type of engineering I do is not fun but it’s well paid and is equally undesirable for a career.
There were lots of reasons why I wanted to study hydrogeology - mostly because I reckon water is quite important, wouldn’t you say? An ever growing global population and ever shrinking available resources mean lots of potential problems in
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
The MSc Hydrogeology course at Birmingham University is supposed to be the best in the world so that’s where I am. Whether or not it’s actually the best I don’t know but it certainly must be the hardest. I expected it to be intensive but not so
difficult at the same time. The course has been about 50%!m(MISSING)aths, 30%!c(MISSING)hemistry, 19%!c(MISSING)omputer modelling and 1%!o(MISSING)ther. I could do the other.
Lectures are now complete, many of which I came out of after two hours of taking notes but understanding little. However, come revision time – during which I pretty much never left my desk all day every day for seven weeks – I found that it all made sense and I think the exams went well. I’ve always liked a challenge and this certainly has been one.
Going back to university after ten years has been a completely different experience to the first time around. Rather than crawling in at the back of the lecture theatre late and hungover, this time around I have sat at the front, projects were submitted on time, much additional
Birmingham Town Hall and Victoria Square
Based on the Roman Temple of Castor and Pollux.
reading was done, supplementary seminars were attended and I haven’t slept in for a 2pm lecture.
I think it’s advantageous to have a few years of work experience before doing a master’s because you approach it more like a job; particularly regarding deadlines, in that you have some work to do so you go home and do it, rather than waiting until a few days before it’s due. On the other hand, equations, formulas and processes that were learnt at university the first time have long since been forgotten so must be re-understood from scratch. This didn’t take too long with the maths but chemistry was always a swine.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Birmingham, at least the little that I’ve experienced of it when I managed to clamber out of the almost bottomless pit of study. They say the secret to happiness is low expectations (look up my favourite Ted Talk, called “Paradox of Choice”) so maybe that’s why I quite like it here.
I’ll admit to having very itchy feet – this is the longest I’ve spent in any single country since... I don’t know, a long time ago.
In front of the Earth Sciences department after the last exam. Within an hour I was not particularly sober.
Above my desk are numerous old Lonely Planets and big glossy coffee table travel books that have provided welcome distractions from chemical equations and curve matching. However, it was my new year resolution to travel less; at least, travel less abroad. Thus I’m looking forward to a summer of weekend trips around the UK. Though, I do keep finding myself on budget airline websites noting how cheap it would be for a little trip here or there.
And now there is just the little matter of a thesis to put together. Submission in four months time – I’d better get on with it.
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