Imperial College London Open Day

Arriving in the heart of London was not as problematic as I first expected it to be. We did get stuck in traffic and queues going into London, which was as expected. We parked in a near by car park which was obviously expensive! On arrival at the university we ended up walking in through the back entrance, so arriving wasn’t as grand as you may expect.

We were greeted with a free bag which contained some highlighter pens, an information booklet and a fold able plastic water bottle. Once signed in, we headed over to a room full of stands. We got a free coffee, which was actually really good and then went to my first talk.

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Talk number 1 was on Medical Biosciences, it was a 90 minute talk taking place in the rather posh Sir Alexander Fleming Building. As we arrived we received a free pen and some more booklets with information. The first part of the talk involved us sitting in a rather small conference room, rather than a large lecture theatre. We were told to begin with about Imperial College as a whole, what life was like as a student there and the clubs and societies on offer. The next part of the talk focused on the course and how it was structured, with information on the modules that will be taught and the hours of lab time. We were then told about the admission procedure, which has a lower than 6% acceptance rate! The typical grades were AAA, but realistically you need to be looking at A*AA to stand a chance. After the talking was done, we were taken into a side laboratory where we had to do a practical, yes a practical! This involved the classic extracting of DNA from a strawberry, which was rather fun and enjoyable. However I wasn’t expecting to be thrown into a practical like that!

After the first talk we had a break ate some food and prepared for talk number 2. The second talk was to be on Biochemistry. The talk took place in a grand lecture theatre. It started off poorly right from the start, they had an IT issue which meant they had to restart the laptop they were using. Which to be honest must have been awkward for the guy running the talk and an embarrassing mistake to make in front of a hundred people. Once the laptop rebooted itself the talk began. The beginning of the talk was similar to the first and involved some data about Imperials history. Then the gentlemen started talking about biotechnology instead of biochemistry, it was quite a shambles! After a rocky start a lady took over for the second part of the lecture. She was a professor and decided to dive right in to a taster lecture on proteins. She seemed to have lost most people as there was no warm up introduction, just straight into undergraduate level biochemistry with no prior warning. Most people lost attention as she went off on one about the isolation of proteins. By that point most of the people there were truly fed up and were itching to leave. The woman ended her rather odd talk by saying “right that is it, I’m off to a meeting now.” Which just caused confusion as the talk was suppose to be 90 minutes but we had only been there 30 minutes. Everyone was half way out of the door, when some PhD student walked in to do the 3rd section of the talk. By now 40% of the people were already gone and the rest of us were up and out of our seats. So we just carried on and left, I did feel sorry for the man after her as everyone left before he could talk!

Once out we headed back to the information stands in the main building, I picked up some leaflets on finance and accommodation etc. Along with a few free pens of course! We then jumped onto an accommodation tour. The accommodation we went to see was about 5 minutes away from the university (it was literally across the road). I was wowed and amazed by the halls, they were so nice and modern. The entrance was rather stylish even down to the fine details such as the lights in the stairs. We looked at 3 types of room: twin, single en-suite and premium en-suite. The twin room wasn’t to bad there was a divider type board in the middle and the en-suite was obviously to be shared. However I don’t think I could deal with sharing a room, even though it is much cheaper the lack of privacy and the worry of not getting along with your room mate would be too much! The en-suite room was rather spacious and was much nicer than any university room I have seen. The premium version was a little bigger with a double bed, rather than the single. As you could imagine the rooms were rather pricey! The kitchen was clean and tidy, with a lockable cupboard and eating space. The common room wasn’t as good as I was expecting. It didn’t feel like a common room, more of an empty wide corridor that someone had left some sofas in by accident. The common room was very long and narrow, which didn’t give it a social and homely feel to it.

Overall I was in awe with the prestige and academic excellence of the place, I did feel a little daunted by the large city. However I would not get bored, there would be plenty to do and the National History Museum is next door along with the science museum and Royal Victoria Albert Museum. The overall buildings did look cool and had a real glow to them and the accommodation was lovely. However my biggest worry is that it is practically impossible to get in! The entry requirements are very high and even if you meet them there is no guarantee you will get in. Also the cost of living in London is crazy and the accommodation prices are just overwhelming!

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